North Korea is planning its second blockchain and crypto conference in February 2020. If you had plans to go, this article is for you. If you hadn’t, it’s still an interesting read.
According to a Reuters report, United Nations sanctions experts are warning people not to attend a planned blockchain and crypto conference in Pyongyang, as it is likely to constitute a sanctions violation.
North Korea has been subject to U.N. sanctions since 2006 because of its nuclear programs. These sanctions oblige countries to prevent “financial transactions, technical training, advice, services or assistance,” if it could provide any support to the country’s missile programs or circumvent existing sanctions.
The cryptocurrency conference could be interpreted as a direct violation of these sanctions. A British government spokesman said, “Supporting the DPRK’s (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, risks violating the Security Council’s resolutions because it would unavoidably increase the DPRK’s ability to subvert sanctions and generate revenue for its weapons programs.”
Ethereum researcher arrested after North Korea’s first crypto conference
The warning comes after independent U.N. experts found that the North Korean government generated about $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal funds from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges.
In particular, the North Korean-affiliated hacking group Lazarus has deployed viruses and malware to steal cryptocurrency. The group has already stolen over half a billion dollars worth of cryptocurrency in 2017 and 2018.
Also, before the U.N. report was published, Virgil Griffith, a researcher of the Ethereum Foundation, has been accused of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. He had traveled to North Korea for its first cryptocurrency conference in April last year, which the US government interpreted as potential aid to North Korea evading international sanctions.
After Griffith’s arrest by US authorities, prosecutors claimed he and other conference attendees had discussed how blockchain technology could be used by the North Korean regime to launder money and evade sanctions.
“Although the press was not allowed to attend the conference and its proceedings were not published openly, the recent indictment of an American for sanctions violations sheds light on the intended purpose of the conference,” writes a U.N. sanctions experts.
Don’t go! Come to Liechtenstein and get the real deal
North Korea, however, wants to make it happen and writes on the conference website, “We will provide a paper visa separated from your passport, so there will be no evidence of your entry to the country. Your participation will never be disclosed from our side unless you publicize it on your own.”
Our advice: It’s not worth it. There are more than enough legitimate blockchain conferences. Come to visit us in Liechtenstein, we have plenty of events going on and we don’t have a nuclear arms program. We don’t even have an army.