Kim Nam-kuk, a representative in the South Korean National Assembly, has announced his departure from his political faction due to a growing scandal surrounding his alleged cryptocurrency dealings. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Kim stated that he would briefly leave the Democratic Party in order to not be a burden on the party and its members.
The scandal began when it was reported that Kim owned around 800,000 Wemix coins in 2021, which were worth approximately 6 billion won ($4.5 million) at the time. This amount was deemed inconsistent with his frugal image and drew the attention of the Democratic Party of Korea, the main opposition force in parliament.
The party’s ethics committee launched an investigation into Kim’s coin trading, and urged him to sell off his assets, a call that he accepted. The investigation has since been suspended.
Critics have pointed out that Kim’s crypto holdings may constitute a conflict of interest, as he sponsored a bill proposing to delay income taxation of virtual assets in July 2021, approximately six months before he withdrew his coins. Korean media has also raised suspicions over the source of the money for his crypto investments and alleged use of insider information.
Kim has maintained that there were no irregularities involved in his trading and has disclosed some of his transaction data. However, he withdrew all his coins last March, ahead of the enforcement of the so-called ‘Travel Rule’ in South Korea, which obliges crypto exchanges to report personal information about crypto owners when a transferred amount exceeds 1 million won.
“I believe I should not cause any kind of harm to the party at this important time,” Kim stated on Sunday. He vowed to “stand up to the unjust political offensive until the end and uncover the truth.” As an independent lawmaker, he plans to demand legal accountability over media reports which he claims are based on false facts.