Cryptocurrency Legislation Landscape in North Korea in 2024

The cryptocurrency landscape in North Korea in 2024 remains shrouded in ambiguity due to the lack of clear regulations or legislation specifically addressing digital currencies. The legal status of cryptocurrency in this isolated nation is thus a matter of contention and uncertainty.

Absence of Specific Regulations

As of 2024, North Korea does not have any known regulations or legislation specifically enacting cryptocurrency regulations. This lack of clarity leads to the controversial status of cryptocurrencies in the country. Without specific laws, the use and trading of cryptocurrencies in North Korea operate in a legal grey area​​.

Cryptocurrency and Cyber Activities

North Korea has been actively involved in cryptocurrency-related cyber activities, often linked to economic sanction evasion and cybercrimes. The country is frequently associated with controversial digital currency thefts. Notable incidents include the hacking of cryptocurrency exchanges like Bithumb and YouBit, leading to significant financial losses. Additionally, North Korea is suspected of conducting the WannaCry Bitcoin ransomware attack and being involved in the heist of NEM from the Coincheck exchange in Japan. These activities are often attributed to state-sponsored hacking groups like Lazarus​​.

Use of Cryptocurrency for Revenue and Money Laundering

Research by the Royal United Services Institute in London highlights that North Korea has utilized cryptocurrencies as a revenue stream and tool for money laundering. These activities reportedly brought in substantial funds, estimated up to $2 billion, mainly through cyberattacks. Furthermore, North Korea has engaged in cryptocurrency mining, possibly for illicit transactions or future use. This underlines the regime’s strategic use of digital currencies to support its financial and geopolitical objectives​​.

In conclusion, the cryptocurrency legislation landscape in North Korea in 2024 is characterized by a lack of specific regulatory frameworks, coupled with the country’s engagement in cryptocurrency-related cyber activities for economic gain and sanction evasion. This scenario presents a complex and unique challenge in understanding and responding to North Korea’s digital currency strategies.

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