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New South Korean bill targets illicit North Korean crypto use



The South Korean government is actively pursuing measures to track and freeze North Korean cryptocurrency and virtual assets used to fund illicit weapons programs. 

The country wants to use its cybersecurity bill to pursue its agenda against the North Korean government in order to strengthen national security and safeguard against cyber threats.

North Korea has been known to be the haven of some of the most notorious cybercriminals in the world. 

Several reports have revealed how the nation has used its cybercriminal activities to steal money around the world, which is used to power its nuclear mission. 

According to the report, an earlier version of the South Korean cybersecurity bill was initially announced by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) back in November. 

However, it was sent back for further revision following President Yoon Suk Yeol’s orders. The President noted that the revised bill must include practical measures aimed at enhancing national security.

After a series of consultations between experts and ministries in the country, they drafted the bill, reflecting the of the president’s commitment to address vulnerabilities in the country’s cybersecurity framework.

In addition, changes made to the bill include measures to track and neutralize digital currencies as well as cryptocurrencies stolen by North Korea through hacking. 

A breakdown of the crimes committed by North Korea shows that it has stolen about $1.28 billion worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum through various hacking operations in 2022 alone.

Another aspect the bill addresses is money laundering through South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges. 

This is connected to the fact that $52.46 million has been laundered by North Korean hacking groups through South Korean crypto wallets over the past four years.

The North Korean criminal space has the Lazarus Group as a major target and has stolen approximately $200 million in 2023, which is 20% of all crypto theft in the same year.  

Considering the activities of this group and other criminal organizations based in North Korea, the U.S. government has declared a $10 million reward for information concerning members of state-sponsored North Korean threat groups, which include the well-known Lazarus Group.

South Korea has also been proactive in regulating its digital space. In July, the country announced it was updating its crypto regulations, making it mandatory for crypto market companies to include their activities in financial statements starting from January 2024. 

These new rules require the disclosure of crypto token details, business models, and profit-recording processes, with investment-focused corporations also disclosing token categorization and values.

Read also; CBDC: South Korea selects regions for pilot

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