An international cryptocurrency conference kicks off today in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. According to the conference agenda, it will be convened during the period from 22-29 February 2020. However, by holding the conference, does North Korea challenging the world and how to encrypt the attendees by hosting an international conference on digital currencies, after the United Nations warns against attending it? And why did North Korea excluded three countries, Japan, Israel and South Korea, from attending? This is what we are going to reveal in this report.
Another Conference After Successful One Last Year
North Korea held its first blockchain and digital currencies conference in April last year and an organizer told Reuters more than 80 organizations took part.
Despite its success, Ethereum Foundation staffer Virgil Griffith has been arrested for allegedly going to a conference in North Korea and sharing his expertise in teaching his audience how to use cryptos to evade sanctions using blockchain technology.
Pyongyang Defies The World
Despite that, North Korea called for another international conference on cryptocurrencies.
The organizers said that the state will encrypt attendees so that they will not be held accountable by their countries for attending the conference, and that the passports of the attendees will not be stamped in the airport, so their attendance remains “encrypted”.
Hence, North Korea government is challenging the world, especially after UN Alerts: Don’t Attend N. Korean Crypto Conference.
U.N. imposed sanctions against North Korea being in place since 2006, designed to curb its nuclear missile programs.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body that sets anti-financial crime policies, warned that North Korea’s government would fail in handling the massive inefficiency in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.
An excerpt from the new UN report, seen by Reuters, states that talks at the crypto conference “have included explicit discussions of cryptocurrency for sanctions evasion and money laundering.”
Conference Website Disappears and Experts Warn
After UN experts warning, and according to media reports, the conference website was down two days after its launch with no data until the moment of press.
A number of digital currencies experts warned against attending the conference, considering this a bad idea.
As you know, when digital currencies space is co-related with countries or institutions do not respect international law and the use of currencies in illegal areas has a very bad impact on the space.
Cybersecurity experts say North Korea has links to a hacking unit known as Lazarus, which is allegedly responsible for targeting banks, bitcoin exchanges, cash machines and ransomware outbreaks in an attempt to generate funds for the regime. The hermit kingdom reportedly brought in up to $2 billion for nuclear missile programs with the use of cyberattacks in recent years, Reuters reported last August.
Three Nations And Journalists Are Not Welcomed
It is interesting that Pyongyang excluded three countries, namely Japan, South Korea and Israel, from attending the conference. Although the conference will be open to those attending from America, the first political enemy of North Korea, delegates from those three countries will not be allowed to attend.
In addition to that, organizers will not allow the presence of journalists and the media in order to maintain the confidentiality of the attendees, either individuals or institutions.
According to conference’s website: “Any interested person except passports from: South Korea, Japan and Israel. Journalists are not allowed to attend”.
The Korean Friendship Association (KFA), foundation supporting North Korea located in Spain, will be organizing the conference.
The conference will be held in Pyongyang Sci-Tech Complex, with aspirations of organizers that the second event will outnumbers the first one.
Reasons Behind Excluding The Tree Nations
Despite that organizers didn’t disclose reasons behind excluding the aforementioned three nations from attending the conference, yet after some research, we found a couple of reasons:
Russian cybersecurity vendor Group-IB published a report in November 2018, setting out that North Korean hackers were behind a number of hacks on crypto exchanges, reaping a massive $571 million from the attacks. Among these exchanges, South Korea’s YouBit pand Japanese Coincheck platforms.
Back in November 2019, South Korea and Japan said that North Korea fired an anonymous projectile. The two countries have warned their ships.
Israel and North Korea Ties
On the other hand, hostility began too early with Israel back since 1972, when North Korea trained and funded Japanese Red Army, an extremist Marxist organization, to attack the Lod Airport in Israel.
The attack resulted in the death of 26 people and numerous injuries. North Korea also participated with Arabs in 1973 war against Israel. Development of hostility reached its peak when North Korea announced military cooperation with Iran in September 2017.
The complete story of development of Israel-North Korea relations is published in a report by The Washington Institute.
This is of course part of the relationship between North Korea and the three countries, which may help explain why those countries were excluded from attending the conference.
We will be waiting for data to appear on the conference’s website, and it may be after the event end, so we can see what has happened, according to what is decided by the North Korean authorities.