Kim Digs for Cybercrime Coin Sanctions Can’t Snatch

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Bottom Line: Since 2016, the North Korean regime has shown its hand as a state sponsor of cybercrime by targeting international financial institutions, engaging in broad ransomware campaigns, and illegally accruing and laundering cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. This pattern of behavior supports Pyongyang’s objective of self-financing the ruling Korean Worker’s Party (KWP) and the Korean People’s Army (KPA), including bankrolling its nuclear and ballistic missile development. Through direct engagement in global illicit activity, the regime of Kim Jong Un is seeking to circumvent international sanctions and sustain its continued despotic rule over the people of North Korea.

Background: Unlike other regions of the world such as Latin America or Eastern Europe, where organized crime attempts to penetrate and corrupt the state, the North Korean state proactively collaborates with organized crime on a global scale. Pyongyang uses its diplomatic outposts, military vessels and a web of front companies and complicit international financial institutions to trade in weapons, drugs and counterfeit foreign currency.  

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