South Koreans are enjoying a six-day weekend thanks to the Buddha’s Birthday, Labor Day and Children’s Day. If you’re in South Korea, please relax and stay safe.

And with that…

South Korea’s blockchain industry had a pretty good 2019, with the value of and investment in blockchain companies climbing from the previous year.

According to a recent report from the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, the corporate value of blockchain companies in South Korea surged to KRW 28.9 billion (almost USD 24 million) in 2019, up 55% from the previous year.

Venture investment in blockchain likewise grew to KRW 2.5 billion, up 56% from the previous year.

The investment-to-corporate value ratio for blockchain in 2019 outpaced big data and 

5G, though it trailed cloud services and autonomous vehicles. The ministry explained that a higher investment-to-value ratio indicates that investors positively evaluate an industry’s growth potential.

Now, corporate value in 2019 was under a third of what it was at the height of the crypto bubble in 2017, and investment had fallen by 38%.

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the global economy, what 2020’s numbers will be is anyone’s guess.

Blockchain a key component of post-COVID world

But whatever they are, blockchain technology is likely to be a key technology in the post-pandemic world.

Korean-language business daily Herald Gyeongje reports that blockchain is rising to the fore as the South Korean government focuses on developing “contractless” or “untack” industries.

Accordingly, we should expect to see a flood of real-world use cases of blockchain across many sectors.

The Herald Gyeongje wonders whether this is the year the blockchain industry really takes off.

ICONLOOP got three mentions: for powering the DID platform and network MyID Alliance, for the admission control service VisitMe and for the certification service broof.

South Korea’s vice finance minister recently called the present a “golden time” for South Korea’s blockchain industry, and indeed, Seoul is spending serious money on blockchain projects.

This year alone, the government is spending KRW 6 billion on publicly led projects and KRW 4.5 billion on privately led projects.

The government is also pushing a KRW 480 billion blockchain R&D program, too, with KISTEP expected to announce the result of its feasibility study in June.

Some observers, however, are warning against the blockchain market reorganizing around major corporations, crowding out startups.

Others are calling on the government to rethink its current approach that separates digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology, warning that this presents a barrier to the use and commercialization of blockchain.