Briefly: Crypto might’ve lost its shine for investors, but North Korean hackers are still going full crypto-bro. According to an unreleased UN report obtained by Reuters, hackers from North Korea stole a record sum of crypto assets last year. South Korean intelligence places the value of Pyongyang’s cyber-loot at around $630M.
Beyond cryptocurrency wallets, North Korean hackers also targeted foreign aerospace and defence companies to collect sensitive information.
Intrigue’s take: When your economy is suffering under crushing sanctions, you gotta get creative with your business ventures. Virtual asset theft is only a small part of how the North Korean regime makes money. It also dabbles in illicit drug production, weapons sales, and overseas indentured labour. Quite the LinkedIn profile.
Also worth noting:
- The US has accused North Korea of selling weapons and munitions to Russia, a claim Pyongyang has denied.
- China remains North Korea’s biggest trading partner and closest ally, but bilateral trade decreased by nearly 90% between 2019 and 2021 as a result of pandemic complications and China’s Zero-Covid policy.