South Korea’s ‘Bit-Island,’ Jeju, Redoubles Crypto Efforts After Losing Regulatory Bid
After losing out to Busan in the competition to be declared Korea’s blockchain “regulation-free” zone, Jeju Island is redoubling its efforts to stay in the game, according to a report in the Jeju Island Daily News.
The island, which lies 282 miles south of Seoul and is also a province, announced on August 13th the establishment of the “Global Blockchain Hub City Development Research Service,” in which it will be investing 175 million won ($145,000) for research running through December.
The modest project will be carried out by Tilon, a Seoul-based company specializing in secure virtualization. Established in 2001, the company often works with local governments and a wide variety of public institutions.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tilon will analyze possible blockchain services suitable for the island and develop a model for blockchain on Jeju. A roadmap will be delivered. As part of the engagement, Tilon will examine advances in the U.S. and the U.K.
The goal of the project is to establish the island as another hub for blockchain in South Korea.
Jeju is in a unique position to achieve the relevant developments. Under a special deal with the national government, it has been self-governing since 2006. No other province has that designation. Jeju has considerable freedom in terms of local administration and legislation and has ambitions to use its autonomy to become a “Free International City.”
In recent years, blockchain and crypto have become central to the island’s plans. The Modified 2nd Comprehensive Plan Jeju Free International City, published in February 2017, makes specific reference to the creation of a virtual currency.
Since South Korea’s Financial Services Commission banned ICOs in September 2017, Jeju has been attempting to use its special status as a way to circumvent the regulation and become the country’s only area for these offerings. In 2018, Governor Won Hee-ryong was reelected on a pro-ICO platform.
In March 2019, the island established the Jeju Blockchain Smart City Composition Association (JBCSCCA), and the possibility of a crypto exchange was discussed, to be called “Bit-Island.”
But little has come of the island’s many efforts, and Jeju was passed over as the country’s chosen blockchain hub just last month. Other areas, such as Seoul City, are also pushing their own programs and threaten to eclipse Jeju in terms of blockchain initiatives.
Image of Jeju via Shutterstock.