South Korea Has a New President and He’s Pro-Crypto

Conservative Power People Party leader Yoon Suk-yeol is now South Korea’s new president after minting NFTs in a final bid to win over young voters last week.
Image source: Lee Jin-man/Pool via Reuters

Quick take:

  • Yoon won 48.56% of the ballot share while Lee Jae-myung from the Democratic Party had 47.83%.
  • Prior to becoming president, Yoon spent 27 years as a prosecutor.
  • Yoon has pledged to deregulate crypto in South Korea and raise the capital gains tax payment threshold.

South Korea has elected the conservative People Power Party leader Yoon Suk-yeol as its new president on Thursday. 

Just three days ago, Yoon announced that he was minting NFTs for his election campaign, joining Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung who did so first in January.

In a narrow victory, Yoon won 48.56% of the ballot share while Lee Jae-myung from the Democratic Party trailed closely behind with 47.83% out of 99.99% of total votes counted.

Yoon is new to politics. Prior to becoming president, he had a 27-year career as a prosecutor who helped imprison two former presidents for corruption.

While both Yoon and Lee have made crypto-friendly statements and have promised to lift South Korea’s de facto ban on ICOs, Yoon perhaps edged out his competition with his pledge to raise the country’s capital gains tax threshold from $2,000 to $40,000.

The previous government imposed strict regulations on crypto as South Korea emerged as the world’s third-largest crypto trading market. 

In 2017, the South Korean government introduced rules that banned Bitcoin futures trading and only allowed cryptocurrency trades only from “real-name bank accounts” — traders must open a real-name account at the same bank as their crypto dealer in order to make deposits or transfers from their e-wallets.

In January, Yoon vowed to deregulate Korea’s crypto industry to promote its growth.

In a country where the older generation tends to stick to their political party allegiance, Yoon’s crypto-friendly campaign was designed to appeal to young men who are “squeezed by the widening wealth disparities during five years of the previous administration”, according to Nikkei Asia

Additionally, Yoon’s anti-feminist stance also won him popularity among these young men, who made a powerful swing vote. During his election campaign, Yoon pledged to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which was established in the ‘90s to advance women’s rights.

In a recent survey from local pollster Realmeter, 64% of men supported the abolishment while 40% of women agreed to it. Exit polls conducted by local broadcasters showed that close to 60% of men in their 20s and 53% of men in their 30s voted for Yoon while women in the same age group mostly voted for his rival, Lee.

Whether Yoon will keep his promises of deregulating and growing South Korea’s crypto market remains to be seen.

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