Tech

Gerald Fenech

Despite little knowledge, North Korea testing crypto mining waters: report

The secretive and highly totalitarian country of North Korea is going for its slice of the cryptocurrency mining pie. A report by South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) suggested that North Korea has been mining cryptocurrencies, albeit on a small scale. Additionally, it appears that a technology company in the country is developing an exchange platform for cryptocurrency, even though the report noted that the average citizens of North Korea have little or no knowledge of cryptocurrency.

“North Korea appears to have tried to mine cryptocurrencies on a small scale,” according to the Yonhap News Agency, quoting the KDB report. “The KDB unit said North Korea may have tried to mine bitcoin between May and July last year, but the attempt appears to have been unsuccessful.”

The KDB report also noted the interest that North Korea is showing towards defining the “characteristics of cryptocurrencies, including anonymity, difficulties of tracing money and cashability.”

Currently, a North Korean tech firm, called Chosun Expo, is reportedly developing a “market-exchange” platform for cryptocurrencies.

However, analysts at KDB noted that it will take considerable time for the cryptocurrency industry to expand in North Korea, particularly because the country lacks a blockchain infrastructure, not to mention high-performance computers, electric power and even stable Internet networks.

According to South Korean media outlet Speconomy, “The current situation in which only a few layers of the Internet can be connected will dampen the development of the virtual currency industry.”

The KDB report further asserts that average North Koreans “appear to have little knowledge of cryptocurrencies,” Yonhap noted. Recent interviews with North Korean defectors showed that “they don’t know about cryptocurrencies in the North,” according to the report.

The report comes on the heels of news that DPRK is hosting a blockchain conference in the capital city of Pyongyang in October. The conference is expected to attract experts in the field from around the world, and North Korea will reportedly show off its “cutting-edge crypto and blockchain technologies.”

In April, a travel company specializing in tourism to North Korea announced plans to create a blockchain-based cryptocurrency exclusively for the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea’s (DPRK) tourism sector—the Koryo coin.

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