In the year 2017, bitcoin price jumped 1600 per cent and while there are those who would attribute this unbelievable jump to increased user awareness and investments from across the globe, there are those who believe that North Korea has a role to play.
Some speculators and observers believe that bitcoin price jump in 2017 was caused by North Korea’s estranged leader, Kim Jong-un. Reports indicate that as the international community united against North Korea’s nuclear program ambitions, the country has been seeking “side businesses” to gain additional funding.
Reports suggest that these side businesses include drug trafficking, endangered species trading, money laundering, currency counterfeiting, cyber piracy, and cryptocurrency theft. To function, the system needs to gain access to cryptocurrencies, then pump up the prices to maximize its returns. Finally, it needs to dispose of its crypto and receive the hard currency the regime so desperately desires.
Opening an exchange account would not work for a country that is essentially bankrupt, so North Korea would need to use its skills pool to steal virtual currencies from around the world. It has been surmised that the regime was behind a number of recent hacks orchestrated to steal Bitcoin.
The hacking of Youbit South Korean exchange is believed to have been carried out by hackers from North Korea backed by the country’s regime. Actively hacking the bitcoin and cryptocurrency ecosystem in a push to gain as much cryptocurrency for the regime as possible.
Once enough crypto has been acquired, the regime would need to convert it back into real currency to realize its gains. Cyber security researchers have determined that the country’s Lazarus Group has been behind a number of bank and crypto exchange hacks in recent months. So much so that the South Korean government has been forced to implement more regulation over exchanges within the country.
The twist is that North Korea, through their efforts, is helping to pump up the value of Bitcoin. Almost 80 per cent of all global Bitcoin trading by the end of November was occurring in Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam. As North Korea is increasing uncertainty through its nuclear weapon programs and other acts of espionage, not to mention increasing the public’s distrust of centralized financial authorities by hacking state banking, people in the region are turning in record numbers to cryptocurrency as an alternate economic system. The result is that North Korea and Kim Jong-un gain more funds when liquidating their cryptocurrency.