South Korea has taken steps to track and freeze cryptocurrency assets used by North Korea for its weapons program. The government plans to submit a bill that will enable them to monitor and prevent the flow of funds that support North Korea’s illicit activities.
The bill, initially introduced by the National Intelligence Service in November 2022, has undergone revisions and collaboration with various government agencies over the past ten months. The revised version includes provisions for the monitoring and mitigation of cryptocurrency assets stolen by North Korea through hacking activities. It also aims to strengthen sanctions against the neighboring nation.
North Korea has been accused of utilizing crypto assets and proceeds from illicit ventures to bypass severe economic sanctions imposed by Western powers and allies. The country is believed to sponsor hackers who exploit cryptocurrencies to fund their weapons program, according to reports from the United Nations and Western superpowers.
Several high-profile crypto breaches have been traced back to North Korea-affiliated hackers. The theft of over $600 million in assets through the Ronin bridge exploit is one such example. Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm, estimates that North Korean hackers have stolen more than $3 billion over the past five years. South Korean intelligence reports indicate that North Korea stole around $1.2 billion worth of BTC and ETH in 2022 alone. Meanwhile, a report by CryptoSlate revealed that North Korean-backed hackers have stolen $497 million in cryptocurrencies from US businesses since 2017.
The South Korean government’s initiative to freeze North Korea’s crypto assets is an important step in disrupting the illicit activities of the neighboring nation. By tracking and blocking these funds, they hope to curb North Korea’s ability to finance its weapons program and strengthen international sanctions against the country.
It is essential for countries to work together to tackle the use of cryptocurrencies for illegal purposes. The decentralized and anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies has made them an attractive tool for illicit activities, including funding terrorism and evading sanctions. With increased cooperation and legislation, governments can take proactive measures against these threats and ensure the integrity of the global financial system.