The author of this blog, formerly worked for the Constitutional Court of Korea and he is excited to see this matter being litigated in Korean courts. The issue, as I have always noted, is simply if government are willing to protect the freedom of individuals to trade and speculate in asset classes of the choosing of the investor. While, I am far from sold on Bitcoin (and other Alt Currencies) as a long-term asset class plays – of course any free democracy shall allow its citizens to invest in asset classes the government doesn’t favor. The key to this issue, seemingly, is just if Alt Currencies shall be considered mere asset classes.
As the reader likely knows, various branches of the Korean government have noted that the Korean government shall either ban Bitcoin exchanges in Korea, prohibit banks from linking accounts to exchanges or otherwise prohibit the use of Alt Currencies in Korea. The people have fought back and the government may have to back off. I have wrote about this a few years back at: Shall Korea Ban Bitcoin?
A local Korean Law Firm has, recently, filed a case to the Constitutional Court of Korea and has vowed to file other cases to other Korean courts. The argument, in short, of this law firm, is that Crypto/Alt Currencies are not being utilized as currencies in Korea and are simply asset classes and thus are property rights that should be protected under the Korean constitution. This argument, at this time, was accepted by the U.S. IRS and other government agencies.
The argument is simple. We don’t prohibit individuals from making speculative investments in Art, Wine, Stamps, Books, Real Estate and other speculative asset classes and this is simply another speculative asset classes. My lord – I see the price of art and wonder how anyone would pay the amount of money they pay for certain pieces of art. Art is one of the most speculative of asset classes and the value of art is as tangible as the value of Bitcoin. The price fluctuation is, often, based on nothing that falls close to reason.
For some, the real estate bubble in Korea may be a more serious issue than a bubble in an Alt Currency. I am more comfortable investing in Bitcoin than I am in investing in a property in some parts of Seoul. If we don’t understand something, it doesn’t mean it should be banned. Hopefully, we shall see governments move to reflecting on this this issue and not let a paternalistic attitude or the self-proclaimed elite win over the freedom of the individual.
Known for his proactive street-smart advice & non-conflicted advocacy, NY Attorney Sean Hayes works with leading retired Korean judges, prosecutors and experienced Korean attorneys in leading contentious and transactional matters in Asia. First non-Korean lawyer employed by the Korean Court System. SeanHayes@ipglegal.com
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