The WSJ reports the official was Jung Ki-joon, the 52 year old head of economic policy at the Office for Government Policy Coordination. Ki-joon was reported to have died of a heart attack while sleeping on Sunday Feb. 18.
In November, 2017 South Korea’s government started weekly meetings of vice ministers to regulate cryptocurrency operations. The deceased official was in charge of integrating opinions of different ministries and offices for meetings headed by Hong Nam-ki, minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination.
The official’s colleagues noted that he had been under extreme pressure over the last year due to holding a stressful post in charge of regulations development against cryptocurrency speculation.
The police have launched an investigation into the sudden death of the official, though it was described as natural.
South Korea, the world’s largest market for cryptocurrencies, has experienced a lot of confusion regarding cryptocurrency policy. On Jan. 11, the Ministry of Justice proposed a cryptocurrency trading ban, which was subsequently misinterpreted by some media as the announcement of an effective ban. The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance later reported that it did not agree with the proposal.
On Feb. 14, the government of South Korea responded to an online petition against crypto regulations. In a released statement, Hong Nam-ki declared that there would be no cryptocurrency trading ban. However, he emphasized that “the government is still divided with many opinions ranging from an outright ban on cryptocurrency trading to bringing the institutions that handle the currency into the system.”