North Korea Rumored to be Launching National Digital Coin
The regime of the Hermit Kingdom, long-accused of stealing crypto assets, has decided to mint their own.
North Korea may create its own blockchain, reported Vice, citing a regime representative. According to Alejandro Cao de Benos, a liaison for the North Korean regime, the country wants to create a blockchain somewhat similar to Bitcoin.
Recently, North Korea even held a crypto conference, gathering experts on blockchain technology.
“We are still in the very early stages in the creation of the token. Now we are in the phase of studying the goods that will give value to it,” said Cao de Benos, adding that there are “no plans to digitize the [North Korean] won for now.”
North Korea is no stranger to cryptocurrencies, though the preferred mode of acquisition was supposedly hacks and stealth mining. North Korea has been linked to the Lazarus hackers group, responsible for attacks against South Korean exchanges.
Experts note that North Korea has enough expertise to build a blockchain. But that would not deal with issues of legality, trust, and adoption, as not many people would be willing to touch this crypto asset.
North Korea’s move is considered one of the negative use cases for cryptocurrency. In theory, building a government-based money network would allow for total surveillance. On the other hand, cryptocurrency adoption has happened mostly in wealthy, technologically advanced societies, and North Korea faces deeper economic troubles.
North Korea has been creative in its attempts to circumvent embargoes and secure hard currency for the regime. A series of worldwide properties and enterprises, including a youth hostel in Berlin, serve to send funds to the country. Creating a digital asset is easy in 2019 - and it may be just as secretive in enriching North Korea, while being mined or minted across the globe.
The information has not been confirmed by official embassy sources. The move of North Korea resembles that of Venezuela, which attempted to circumvent embargoes and hyperinflation by issuing the Petro. However, the Petro has been blocked from the USA by a US Presidential order, which is pending to be voted into a bill. A North Korean digital asset may face a similar fate.