South Korea Now Prohibits Transactions Related To North Korean Crypto Theft

Key Points:

  • In response to specific North Korean groups and individuals, South Korea declared separate sanctions on crypto thefts.
  • Seven organizations and four North Korean people have been placed on the government’s blacklist for allegedly using unlawful cyber operations to fund nuclear and missile development.
  • Only a few hours had passed since South Korea had declared a cooperative cyber initiative with U.S. intelligence agencies to combat ransomware threats before sanctions were imposed.
In response to cryptocurrency thefts and cyberattacks against particular North Korean organizations and persons, South Korea imposed its first round of unilateral sanctions.
South Korea Now Prohibits Transactions Related To North Korean Crypto Theft

The South Korean government has banned four North Koreans and seven organizations for allegedly using criminal cyber operations, such as crypto theft, to fund nuclear and missile development.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice from Friday said:

“This is the first independent sanctions against North Korea in the cyber sector by the South Korean government. It is expected that it will serve as an opportunity to alert the world to the risk of virtual asset trading with North Korea by including the virtual asset wallet address as the identification information of the subject of sanctions.”

Four North Korean individuals and seven firms have reportedly been added to a blacklist for allegedly participating in cyberattacks and cryptocurrency theft, according to Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The notorious Park Jin-hyok, Jo Myong-rae, Song Rim, and Oh Chung-Seong are among those on the blacklist.

The most infamous of the four hackers, Park, works in IT for the Chosun Expo Joint Venture, a sham organization associated with the Lazarus Group in North Korea. He gained notoriety for taking part in the Sony Pictures Entertainment breach in November 2014 and the WannaCry ransomware campaign in 2017. In 2018, the US Treasury added him to a list of people to avoid.

South Korea Now Prohibits Transactions Related To North Korean Crypto Theft

The foreign ministry’s evidence indicates that hackers from North Korea have stolen virtual assets totaling more than $1.2 billion since 2017, including $626 million in 2022.

In 2022, North Korean cryptocurrency theft reached a record level. The theft of $100 million in cryptocurrency from Horizon Bridge was likewise masterminded by two North Korean cyber gangs, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation said in January. A $600 million attack occurred in March using a US-blacklisted Ethereum wallet that is purportedly connected to the highly skilled North Korean hacking group Lazarus.

The Financial Services Commission of South Korea must first approve any transactions with a blacklisted business, according to laws, the warning stated. The laws of the nation forbidding the funding of terrorism encompass crypto transactions.

Just a few hours ago, South Korea and the US launched a collaborative cybersecurity initiative to combat ransomware attacks. Now, separate sanctions have been imposed against North Korean hackers and hacking groups. A coordinated cybersecurity advisory on the dangers of North Korean ransomware was published by the National Intelligence Service of South Korea, the National Security Agency, and other U.S. intelligence agencies.

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