The ICO model remains prohibited in South Korea, according to a press release issued by the country’s Financial Services Commission. The commission backed up its decision to maintain the ICO ban by a survey conducted by the country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).
The FSS contacted 22 South Korean firms that decided to launch ICOs in foreign jurisdictions because of the domestic ban. The 13 companies that responded raised a combined $509 million through their token sales.
Singapore and Switzerland were two of the most popular destinations for the projects as the two countries are relatively friendly to cryptocurrency and ICOs.
According to the FSC, several firms were able to find ways to circumvent the local ICO ban, and produced Korean language marketing materials and other documents.
South Korea originally introduced its ICO ban in September of 2017, but there was speculation throughout 2018 about a change in the policy. A group of South Korean lawmakers led by Hong Eui-rak proposed a partial legalization of ICOs, which would only allow token sales to be held by pre-approved companies that would have to adhere to strict rules.
Despite the ICO ban staying in place, South Korea remains one of the global cryptocurrency industry’s hot spots, and the country is home to major cryptocurrency exchanges such as Bithumb, UPBit and Korbit.