Apparently, the North Korean regime was able to avoid international sanctions by mining or stealing bitcoin, according to some experts. It seems that the Asian country has at least obtained 11,000 bitcoins, valued around $125 million dollars as of today. Did North Korea get that amount of Bitcoins?
North Korea Bitcoin Operations
Due to diplomatic conflicts with most of the countries North Korea has been suffering from important economic sanctions. Most of them were financial. That means that North Korea suffered from a lack of financing for their activities.
But the country has been searching for different methods to keep developing their military plans, including a nuclear program. According to a former NSA official, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) exploited the benefits of using cryptocurrencies.
The official was quoted by Radio Free Asia stating that North Korea was able to steal and mine 11,000 bitcoins. In the past, several sources informed that South Korea’s northern brother hacked different cryptocurrency exchanges like Youbit.
A security firm known as FireEye it explained that it has found evidence that North Korea hacked several cryptocurrency exchanges. The report elaborated by this firm reads as follows:
“While Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges ay seem like odd targets for nation-state actors interested in funding state coffers, some of the other illicit endeavours North Korea pursues further demonstrate an interest in conducting financial crime on the regime’s behalf. North Korea’s office 39 is involved in activities such as gold smuggling, counterfeiting foreign currency, and even operating restaurants.”
With an amount of 11,000 Bitcoin stolen and a price of $20.000 dollars per bitcoin in December 2017, the amount stolen may represent 2% of North Korea’s GDP. Clearly, it is not the same case as Japan, where private investors increased by 0.3% Japan’s GDP in 2017. North Korea seems to be involved in criminal activities to keep funding their nuclear program and military power.
Other cryptocurrency exchange that has been hacked was Bithumb, one of the largest in South Korea. According to the South Korean intelligence agency, the North was involved in this hack as well.