South Korea To Freeze North Korean Crypto Assets With New Bill

South Korea To Freeze North Korean Crypto Assets With New Bill

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South Korea is looking to significantly strengthen sanctions against North Korea with the introduction of a revised bill first announced in November 2022. 

Yoon Suk Yeol had instructed the revision of the bill to include “practical measures to improve national security,” according to local news reports. 

A Revised Bill 

Local reports have stated that the South Korean Government plans to introduce a bill that proposes the tracking and freezing of North Korean crypto assets. According to South Korean authorities, North Korea uses its crypto assets to fund its various weapons programs, including its nuclear program. The original version of the bill in question was introduced in November 2022. However, this bill was pulled back for revisions by Presidential decree. 

The new bill, aimed at striking at Pyongyang’s weapons program, results from 10 months of deliberations and consultations between various South Korean government agencies, according to sources familiar with the matter. The new bill contains provisions that are explicitly designed to track and neutralize cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets stolen by North Korea and North Korea-backed hackers such as the Lazarus Group. 

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol had issued instructions regarding the bill’s revision, which is now expected to add to South Korea’s existing sanctions against its neighbor. According to government sources, the South Korean president felt that the country’s cybersecurity framework requires urgent repairs. 

North Korea’s Long List Of Hacks 

According to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, North Korean hackers have stolen over $180 million in cryptocurrency in the first half of 2023 alone. The country, and in particular the dreaded Lazarus Group, have been the brains behind a growing list of crypto hacks and attacks, ones that have left the industry reeling. According to Chainalysis, North Korea and the Lazarus Group have stolen around $3 billion in crypto over the past five years. 

South Korean Intelligence also puts ahead a staggering figure, adding that North Korea stole $1.7 billion worth of crypto in 2022 alone, particularly Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

“The growth in Pyongyang’s haul from cyber crime has corresponded with a sharp rise in missile tests by the regime, which launched over 90 cruise and ballistic missiles last year and conducted its first successful test of a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile in April.”

The Lazarus Group is suspected to be behind some of the most crippling and high-profile hacks in the crypto space. A recent hack was that of CoinsPaid, an entity linked to crypto payments processor Alphapo, which disclosed it was the victim of an exploit worth $37 million in July.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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