We recently wrote about all the reasons why South Koreans love crypto — they’re a highly innovative people who quickly embrace new technology.

As it turns out, North Korea also loves crypto… albeit for different reasons.

Forced to find creative financing solutions in the face of international sanctions and crippling economic difficulties, North Korea has reportedly turned to crypto as an alternative revenue stream. 

How is North Korea using crypto?

North Korea is allegedly engaging with cryptocurrencies in many ways: by acquiring mining hardware, hacking, conducting heists and money laundering. Some observers have even suggested that Kim Jong Un has been behind Bitcoin’s price swings.

North Korea has also hosted cryptocurrency and blockchain conferences — in fact, one Ethereum developer from the United States was arrested upon his return to the US for speaking at a conference in Pyongyang in 2019.

North Korea was blamed for the Bithumb attack in July 2017, the YouBit hack in December 2017, as well as the ‘Biggest Cryptocurrency Theft of 2020’ last September — when $275 million was stolen from KuCoin.

However, while the government may be actively utilizing cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, ordinary North Koreans are believed to have limited knowledge of crypto. It is estimated that only a few thousand North Koreans have access to the internet, compared to nearly 50 million users in South Korea. This just highlights the contrast with the South, where cryptocurrency investment is widespread despite government skepticism and concern.