South Korea’s Senior Bitcoin Regulator Found Dead at Home

Korea’s regulatory stance on cryptocurrency has been a main indicator for its price in recent months. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

Jung Ki-joon, a South Korean official who led the policy-making for the country’s cryptocurrency market, was found dead at home on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal first reported. He was 52.

A Korean government spokesman said that “he died from some unknown cause. He passed away while he was sleeping, and [his] heart [had] already stopped beating when he was found dead.”

Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Jung had likely suffered a heart attack, and police have opened an investigation into the cause of death.

Jung was the head of economic policy at the Office for Government Policy Coordination, the government agency that regulates the country’s emerging digital currency market.

For most of 2017, the agency’s task was focused on drafting regulations to tamper the excessive volatility and irrational investing activities in the cryptocurrency market. Jung was in charge of coordinating the opinions of different offices within the government system to prepare for the weekly meetings with the agency head and relevant officials.

Jung’s colleagues said that he had been under heavy stress since taking the role late last year.

South Korea has been at the center of debate for contributing to the cryptocurrency boom in the last few months of 2017—and its subsequent crash.

The Korean government made its first declaration on cryptocurrencies in December by vowing to tighten regulation on the market. The Office for Government Policy Coordination said it would shut down all digital currency exchanges if needed.

The announcement immediately sent Bitcoin prices to tumble more than 1o percent.

A month later, however, the regulatory office softened its tone and said it had no plans to issue an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading. That’s also the last time Jung made a public appearance.

We will respond strongly to cryptocurrency speculation and illegal acts, but we will provide support to research and development relating to blockchain technology,” he said at a press conference on January 15. 

South Korea’s Senior Bitcoin Regulator Found Dead at Home