North Korean Bitcoin mining enterprises are increasingly being used by the the isolated Asian dictatorship to avoid heavy economic sanctions imposed by the USA. When speaking to the Asia Times this week, two Washington-based financial intelligence analysts explained that Kim Jong Un’s regime is using cryptocurrencies like Monero to avoid global banking regulations as well as US-imposed trade restrictions. It’s also thought that North Korean Bitcoin mining efforts are generating significant revenues for the embattled international pariah state.
Both Lourdes Miranda, a financial crimes expert who specialises in forensic data analysis, and Ross Delston, a lawyer and expert witness on compliance, terrorist funding and money laundering, confirmed that they strongly suspect North Korea is trading in crypto-assets whilst running its own mining operations on the side. Miranda and Delston named Bitcoin and Monero as two cryptocurrencies known to be used by the government of Pyongyang to circumvent US sanctions but refused to rule out the possibility that North Korea could be developing its own coins. In a joint statement the pair stated that, “DPRK [North Korea] can create their own crypto-currencies or use established ones like Bitcoin.”
Miranda and Delston’s findings reiterate those of Priscilla Moriuchi, a former cybersecurity operative for America’s National Security Agency (NSA), who claimed, earlier this year, that North Korean Bitcoin mining and crypto trading has generated income between 15 and 200 million USD for Kim Jong Un’s largely impoverished nation.
North Korea aren’t the only country attempting to avoid the long arm of US-lead global interventionism. As we reported at the beginning of the month, the Iranian government has acknowledged cryptocurrency mining as a legitimate industry in an effort to undermine, at least in part, the worst excesses of the United States’ punitive foreign policies. Whether this is Kim Kong Un’s real intention is up for debate. Many sceptics will argue that the Pyongyang elite is using cryptocurrency as a speculative measure to anonymously accrue private wealth rather than as a means to provide much needed economic relief for the people of North Korea. As hedge fund guru George Soros argued in January;
“as long as you’ve got dictatorships on the rise … the rulers in those countries are going to turn to bitcoin to build a nest egg abroad.”