Will North Korea Fund Weapons Programs With Monero
New findings raise the suspicion that North Korea is using cryptocurrencies to finance weapons programs and to circumvent sanctions. The party leadership seems to have discovered Monero in particular.
The North Korean government under Kim Jong-un apparently uses cryptocurrencies to circumvent international sanctions and fund weapons programs. This emerges from a recent report by the cybersecurity company Recorded Future. Accordingly, the North Korean regime should use the cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) in particular.
According to the report, Internet use in North Korea has increased by 300 percent in the past three years. This increase is due on the one hand to the expansion of the network infrastructure in the country. This also results in increased use among the population. Oddly enough, however, online activities are strikingly spread over regular working hours. In a country that claims to have an employment rate of 100 percent, this arouses mistrust.
Until 2017, the Internet was mainly used on weekends and after work. According to the report, the blatant shift indicates that the Internet “is no longer just a fascination or a leisure activity, but has become a decisive instrument for the North Korean leadership”. One explanation for the rapid increase is the country’s dependence on cryptocurrencies. North Korea therefore uses cryptocurrencies to open up money channels bypassing sanctions.
Monero’s network traffic in the North Korean IP range has increased at least tenfold since May 2019, making it the most popular digital asset for mining in the DPRK (mining capacities surpass even Bitcoin).
This preference is due to the fact that XMR mining can be carried out on non-specialized equipment, which reduces operating costs and eliminates the need to import miners from abroad. In addition, Monero’s increased level of anonymity allows North Korea to reliably hide funds and circumvent sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and the UN Security Council.
Author: Marko Vidrih
Featured image credit: Pixabay