While an old Korean proverb warns that ‘If you don’t walk today, you must run tomorrow,’ the motto of modern South Korea’s approach to novelty is hereby summed up thusly: Walk briskly today, so you’re set to outrun the rest tomorrow. As early adopters, and eventually global trendsetters, South Korea has immense potential in the blockchain space.
When the series of headlines from September 2017 to March 2018 discuss on the subject of the new Korean bans on ICOs, one might assume this was a tough sell. On the other hand, for others who are more knowledgeable and accustomed to the long saga of blockchain’s arrival to Asia’s fourth-largest economy, you should probably expect otherwise. If you’re well aware of South Korea’s history as a government and populace of tech pioneers and know the huge blockchain investments already in motion, you should be ready to bet that these obstacles to widespread adoption will soon be just water under the bridge.
A Culture of Innovation
Five years before Facebook happened, South Korea already had Cyworld and had made it into its very own well-known social network aid. It had the capability to eventually capture the demand of almost every single one of South Korea’s young users. The data point is just one of innumerable tributes to the country’s keen interest and aptitude for cutting-edge technology, both as a tool and an investment.
One major reason to anticipate South Korea to yearn trails in the blockchain is the culture of adoption and innovation. In achieving rapid economic growth
since the mid-20th century, South Korea’s exceptionally well-educated population originally reckoned on reverse engineering of foreign tech imports to learn and understand their design. But rather than simply imitating these products, South Koreans are tackling to innovate them. In 2015, the nation topped Bloomberg’s list of one of the most innovative countries.
South Korea, then, had a record of both harnessing new technologies and investing in them. This tradition is carried on with blockchain. Thirty percent of paid workers own and exchange cryptos, making this the country with the most crypto investors as a percentage of the total population.
A Forward-thinking Government
If the society’s enthusiasm for blockchain and cryptos signal promise, the government’s initiatives and investments bode redoubled well. As with the former, the latter is rooted in a tradition of forward-thinking openness to newer technologies.
In 1982, the South Korean government launched a zealous national R&D program that set in place a commitment to investment in innovation. The nation tops lists of R&D investment as a percentage of GDP, and in 2018 allotted $880 million to be spent on blockchain development in 2019. Source: "History | Great Wall of Numbers." 3 Dec. 2018, https://www.ofnumbers.com/category/history/.
Part of this plan involves education on blockchain areas for young Koreans. Both the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Science and Technology have announced plans to provide more severe education on blockchain and its applications.
Meanwhile, Seoul announced a $108 million blockchain industry plan to be implemented between 2019-2023. Therefore, despite qualms about cryptos, the government is proactively supporting blockchain. Aiming to nurture ideas and early-stage businesses in the field, the initiative will include the construction of a blockchain complex providing space to 200 blockchain companies.
Korea's Blockchain Adoption Gaining Momentum
South Korea’s embrace of the emerging technology, as well as both public and private investments, have evidently fueled adoption in the nation. Across industries, in firms no matter large or small, and also in the public sector, experimentation and implementation have already gained its momentum.
Last year, a number of big blockchain announcements from some of South Korea’s largest composites such as SK Telecom, which is South Korea’s largest wireless telecommunications network, revealed it will be implementing blockchain to manage subscriptions, payments, and real-name authentication. South Korean chat app giant Kakao introduced a blockchain platform, while Line Corporation, a subsidiary of the Korean internet giant Naver, launched its own cryptocurrency.
The government is also introducing the distributed ledger technology. On the Late November of 2017, Samsung SDS announced that they had won a contract to help the Seoul Metropolitan Government in planning and integrating blockchain technology in the city. The government has expressed interest in using blockchain to improve welfare programs, safety, and traffic management. Finally, blockchain is proliferating among smaller businesses too. Also of note, the coin exchange Bithumb now offers a payment service using blockchain.
From trading to logistics, to medicine and finance, 2018 and the first quarter of this year have seen this adoption trend take hold in a wide range of industries.
Walking today, Running TomorrowIn light of the numerous promises for blockchain in South Korea, the government’s seemingly “irreconcilable” stances on blockchain and crypto could seem perplexing. Months after legislation, there led a number of South Korean companies to launch ICOs through subsidiaries abroad, the federal government appeared to backtrack with last July’s announcement of a plan to legitimize crypto exchanges.
Disclaimer: This article above is purely for educational purposes. Therefore, it should not be used as financial advice or an indication that Moonwhale supports the aforementioned companies.
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About The Author:
Syaza Sophie Pinz is based in Singapore and handles Marketing and Public Relations for Moonwhale Blockchain Ventures Inc. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Professional Communications, does photography, and digital designing on the side.