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South Korea to whether to lift ban on ICOs next month

The South Korean government will decide in November whether to lift the ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the country, industry website Coindesk has reported, citing a high-ranking official.

South Korea banned domestic ICOs in September, 2017, and is now one of a handful of countries that have completely outlawed the fundraising practice that allows blockchain projects to issue and sell their own tokens. However, since then the government have signalled on several occasions that it may consider softening its stance on the sector.

According to a report from Coindesk Korea, the head of South Korea’s office for government policy, Hong Nam-ki, told lawmakers during National Assembly's annual audit on government actions earlier today that regulators had been reviewing the subject in recent weeks. The Financial Services Commission (FSC), in particular, had been conducting surveys on token sales since September, Hong added.

“We are going to form the position of the government in November based on the results of the investigation at the end of October,” Hong also said, in response to a question from Jeon Haecheol, lawmaker from the Democratic Party.

“If we waste time, the blockchain industry could face huge difficulties. We need to look at very realistic and specific ways to nurture the blockchain industry, and I think permitting ICOs is one of them," Jeon said, voicing support for ICOs.

Earlier this month, South Korea’s top policymaker Min Byung-Doo expressed a similar view before the National Assembly. “I do not want the ICO door closed completely,” Min said just over a week ago.

However, the FSC continues to advise caution. According to a report from South Korean news agency Yonhap, the financial watchdog’s chairman Choi Jong-gu said today in a meeting that while many people insisted that the ban should be lifted, “uncertainty remains, and the damage is too serious and obvious”.

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