• Since 2019, the North has stolen USD 310 million in cryptocurrency, according to a South Korean politician

  • Over the last two years, a top South Korean opposition lawmaker claims that North Korean hackers have hacked South Korean crypto wallets, stealing about USD 310 million.

    According to Chosun, Ha Tae-keung, the former leader of the New Conservative Party and now a member of the main opposition People Power Party, has stated that he intends to run for president next year.

    He claimed that, in addition to the 35 cases of hacking identified by the UN in 2019 – in which North Korean cyber criminals allegedly stole USD 2 billion (which the country denies), he had seen evidence that Pyongyang-backed hackers had stolen another USD 310 million worth of tokens from South Korean wallets in the two years since.

    North Korean raiders have also successfully attacked the Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA), a government-run intelligence body responsible for anti-cybercrime activities, according to Ha.

    Gina Kim, an IT security expert in Seoul, told us:

    “While it’s true that cryptocurrency exchanges were originally thought to be low-hanging fruit, with loose security protocols and money stashed in hot wallets, a lot has changed in the last few years. Some exchanges now have excellent security and well-trained personnel. As a result, most attackers today use sophisticated spear-phishing, voice phishing, and social engineering assaults to target customers directly. I can’t say whether these assailants are from North Korea or not, but they are overwhelmingly Korean-speaking.”

    If elected, Ha promised to make KISA a more dangerous opponent for would-be hackers. He believes the agency should be merged and report to the president’s office directly.

    He went on to say that “millions of dollars” in cryptocurrency were stolen from “people’s wallets,” with the authorities doing little to stop it. Ha said that occurrences like these harmed South Korea’s international reputation, concluding, “I will make the Republic of Korea the safest country on the planet, protecting it from cybercrime, including hacking.”

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