While most countries’ relationship with the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry is complex in one way or the other, North Korea has always had a particularly interesting relationship with cryptocurrency and blockchain. It has been stated for years that the government of North Korea is sponsoring a hacker team that has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency in order to fund their nuclear weapons program following sanctions from the United States. Recently, a former Ethereum researcher was arrested and put on trial for visiting North Korea in order to attend a blockchain conference that teaches North Koreans how to avoid sanctions using blockchain.
Now, it has been reported that Internet use within North Korea has soared by 300 percent in the last three years and this is due to North Koreans relying more heavily on cryptocurrency in day-to-day life.
This information comes via a study titled “How North Korea Revolutionized the Internet as a Tool for Rogue Regimes,” which was released by the Inskit Group in the United States. To conclude the study, the groups observed Internet usage among senior leadership in North Korea from January 1, 2019, to November 1, 2019. The study then found that blockchain and cryptocurrency have become popular means to move illicit = funds in North Korea as well as generate income.
The study reveals that the use of cryptocurrency for illicit activities operates at a high-level within North Korea with many of the leadership and military elite being involved in the hacking of particularly South Korean crypto exchanges in order to generate income and also to avoid sanctions. Furthermore, North Koreans were involved in cybercrime were often sponsored abroad by the government in order to gain more knowledge and were unwittingly hosted by other countries. Inskit has been tracking North Korean agents in countries such as India, China, Nepal, Kenya, Mozambique, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh.