South Korean flag with bitcoin in front

South Korea’s largest political party demands candidates declare their digital asset holdings

The Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), one of South Korea’s two major political parties, will mandate all its candidates to declare their digital asset holdings as part of its move toward transparency.

DPK’s strategic planning committee chairman, Han Byeong-do, revealed the new mandate after a closed-door meeting as the party prepares for the upcoming elections in 2024.

“We will do our best to nominate a candidate that meets the public’s expectations,” he told reporters.

Digital assets have become increasingly significant in the Korean political scene in recent years. The country’s president, Yoon Suk Yeol, ascended to power in 2022 with the promise of deregulating the industry, defeating DPK’s Lee Jae-myung, who also pledged to make the country a metaverse and Web3 haven.

However, a scandal involving a DPK legislator has made digital asset transparency a key issue for the voters. Kim Nam-kuk was found to have held at least $4.5 million worth of WEMIX tokens, which he sold off just before a South Korean court ordered its delisting. Following accusations of insider trading and conflict of interest, Kim resigned from the party and almost lost his parliamentary seat.

For DPK, the remedy is transparency and ensuring that candidate verification is “strictly strengthened based on morality,” says Chairman Han.

“We decided to verify whether a candidate has a conflict of interest in virtual assets from the verification committee screening stage.”

He added, “If you make a false report, you will be legally held responsible for it.” The penalty will include a person’s candidacy being canceled.

Holding digital assets is not illegal in itself, Han clarified. Rather, DPK is more interested in how the candidate acquired the assets and whether any laws have been broken, including taxation requirements.

In South Korea, digital assets are legal, with the country’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) overseeing the sector.

DPK is the largest party in South Korea, holding 168 of the 300 parliamentary seats. It lost the 2023 presidential elections to the conservative People’s Power Party (PPP) and has been losing its grip on power in recent provincial and metropolitan elections. With parliamentary elections set for April 2025, both parties are ramping up preparations, and digital assets could be a vital issue yet again.

Digital asset disclosures have become commonplace in other countries. In Canada, politicians are required to declare digital assets above CAD 10,000 ($7,300). However, in recent months, they have faded away from the spotlight, and even the most ardent digital asset supporters no longer list them on their disclosures.

In the U.S., politicians are also mandated to disclose their digital asset holdings, a requirement that has seen its fair share of controversy. In July, New York Mayor Eric Adams was discovered to have concealed his ‘crypto’ holdings in his annual financial disclosure form.

Adams had to correct the disclosure and blamed the forms’ wording for his ‘mistake.’ The mayor has been pushing for digital asset adoption and even pledged to accept his salary in BTC.

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