The hermit kingdom is at it again.
As reported by Yonhap News the research unit of South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) cited that last year between May and July the rogue state launched efforts to mine Bitcoin as a potential means to work around international banking sanctions, and a new not-so-sinister way to obtain cryptocurrency.
The report noted that the attempt at mining was conducted “on a small scale” with the end results being unsuccessful. Nonetheless, the KDB report claims that North Korea has shown a strong disposition towards cryptocurrencies which feature “anonymity, untraceability, and cashability”. Digital currencies which can provide the best means to hide the facts of money laundering from other countries.
KDB has also claimed that the North Korean tech firm, “Chosun Expo” is working on building the countries first Bitcoin exchange. The entire concept of a cryptocurrency exchange functioning in an authoritarian regime such as North Korea seems like an oxymoron in itself.
According to interviews conducted with North Korean defectors, it appears that most North Korean’s have exactly “zero-knowledge” of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for that matter. Which is unsurprising.
In order to achieve adoption, a cryptocurrency must cling to four basic democratic based principles.
- Censorship resistance, which would be an immediate risk to any media censoring government.
- Second is that it must be available to all members without government consent, which is basically unimaginable in a government-controlled economy.
- Third, it must be borderless, which is incomprehensible under a regime that needs to limit the stream of individuals and cash in and out of the country.
- Finally, it must be decentralized, the exact opposite of a highly centralized government such as North Korea.
Back To The Drawing Board
Despite Pyongyang’s failed mining operations. It is estimated that North Korea owns as much as 11,000 Bitcoin ($77 million). Most of which were obtained through various devious cyber activities – such as ransom paid to North Korean Bitcoin wallets during the attack on hospitals in May of last year, an attack that crippled NHS terminals across the UK.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un is reportedly looking toward Bitcoin as a “new tool to increase independence and ease some of the economic burden [of sanctions].” and if the rumored blockchain conference in Pyongyang is any indication, North Korea is growing increasingly bullish on cryptocurrencies. The only question remains, “Who’s coming?”