Serious Accusations: North Korea Has Hacked $1.2 Billion In Cryptocurrencies And Other Assets For Its Economy!

North Korean hackers allegedly have stolen an estimated 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets over the past five years, more than half of them this year alone, South Korea’s spy agency said Thursday. Experts and officials say North Korea has turned to crypto-hacking and other illicit cyber activities to raise much-needed foreign currency to shore up its weak economy and fund its nuclear program in the wake of strict U.N. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korea’s leading spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, said North Korea’s ability to steal digital assets is considered among the best in the world, as the country has focused on cybercrime since the U.N. tightened economic sanctions in 2017 in response to its nuclear and missile tests.

The U.N. sanctions, imposed in 2016-17, ban critical North Korean exports such as coal, textiles, and seafood and prompt member states from repatriating North Korean workers from abroad. The country’s economy suffered further setbacks after it imposed some of the world’s most draconian restrictions against the pandemic.

According to the NIS, state-backed North Korean hackers have stolen an estimated 1.5 trillion won ($1.2 billion) in virtual assets worldwide since 2017, including about 800 billion won ($626 million) this year alone. More than 100 billion won (US$78 million) came from South Korea.

North Korean hackers are expected to carry out more cyberattacks next year to steal advanced South Korean technologies and confidential information on South Korean foreign policy and national security.

Earlier this month, senior diplomats from the United States, South Korea, and Japan agreed to step up efforts to curb illicit North Korean cyber activity. In February, a panel of U.N. experts said North Korea continues to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from financial institutions, cryptocurrency companies, and exchanges.

Despite its economic woes, North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests this year in what some experts say is an attempt to modernize its arsenal and increase its leverage in future negotiations with its rivals to win sanctions relief and other concessions.


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