Who Is Do Kwon? A Look Behind Coinage’s Terra Interview

Before our interview with Terra Founder Do Kwon, there was an interview with Do Kwon

By: Zack Guzman

August 25, 2023

This week marks one year since the community-owned Web3 outlet Coinage published our award-winning interview with Terra Founder Do Kwon.

In the year since, not only has Do Kwon been jailed in Montenegro – but an entire industry has crumbled, and another collapse on nearly a similar scale has landed its founder, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, behind bars as well.

And yet, despite much being learned about both FTX’s and Terra’s collapses, both founders remain almost as enigmatic as they were before. Not even our attempt to ask one about the other yielded much results.

In revisiting new, never-before-seen footage of our two-day interview with Do Kwon, Coinage wanted to move past our historic recounting of Terra’s collapse during those six days in May. Instead, we endeavored to focus more on Do Kwon, himself. Not the founder, not the operator — but the man who sat down to talk with us.

During our final day interviewing Do in Singapore on July 23, 2022, there was a bit of an interview behind the interview. If I’m at liberty to share a bit from the interviewer's playbook, there always is. In particular, on our second day of filming, we asked Do to let us film inside his Singapore home. We had one request: Let’s just do what you would normally do.

That meant playing StarCraft.

Do Kwon, founder of Terraform Labs, sits down for an exclusive interview with Coinage at his company's office in Singapore.
Do Kwon, founder of Terraform Labs, sits down for an exclusive interview with Coinage at his company's office in Singapore.

As Do Kwon told me, for years it had been his tried and true stress reliever. But just months removed from the collapse of his $40 billion crypto empire, there wasn’t as much of a need for a stress reliever as much as there was a need to grieve.

“There’s a difference between grief and stress,” he told me as we settled in and he loaded up StarCraft on the two laptops he placed on his dining room table. “Grief is just an emotion you need to process, and stress is you trying to strategize about something that cannot be strategized.”

As he tapped the keys, it became apparent there was a bit of a ritual to it. Even the name “Terra” stems from the computer game, which features the Terran people as one of the dominant species in the galaxy. Other products built in Terra’s ecosystem would feature similar StarCraft themes. And as someone who had never played StarCraft before, I figured getting Do Kwon to teach me one of his favorite ways to unwind would be a fairly comfortable beginning to what was likely to be an uncomfortable flurry of questions. But if he was going to be uncomfortable, you might as well ask away while he’s indulging in his ideal stress reliever.

“For me, it was one of those ways where it was really easy to deal with stress, because the way I like to deal with stress is there’s just a lot of thoughts going on in your head,” he said. “One of the things I always try to tell myself is, ‘You should only care about things that matter, A, and B, something you can do about. Usually when you’re stressed, it’s because you’re thinking over and over about things that you really can’t do anything about.”

As we sat at the table, nearly two months had passed since Terra’s famed stablecoin infamously failed. Nearly everyone knew charges of some sort were coming, but technically, there still wasn’t a warrant out for his arrest. In Do’s estimation, there wasn’t much to be stressed over since there wasn’t much he could do now. And in a weird way, he seemed almost as ambivalent about things as he had when I interviewed him a year prior as Terra sat at all-time highs. Perhaps StarCraft was already working.

“Well I guess StarCraft teaches you: Help your allies and kill your enemies,” Do joked.

“I just haven't found the words to describe what that feels like."
“I just haven't found the words to describe what that feels like."

Almost as quickly as we had started playing, I started losing. Minutes in, I lost the game. I miscalculated the computer’s attack, and didn’t establish my defenses enough. It wasn’t a $40 billion collapse, but I was embarrassed I lost. Do just as quickly chimed in.

“Yeah, I feel the same way.”

As the game started to melt away, the interview started to come to the forefront. Do’s hands left the keyboard. He leaned back from the laptop. An uncomfortable 17-second silence hung in the air after I asked my question at the heart of our interview now a year ago:

“What’s your take on … how you define fraud?”

Coinage NFT holders can watch the never-before-seen 17-minute lead up to our interview with Do Kwon above. Don’t have a Coinage NFT? Mint one now to subscribe, or co-own our outlet.


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