South Korea issued its first "independent sanctions against North Korea in the cyber sector."
The South Korean government has sanctioned several individuals and businesses tied to North Korea-initiated cyberattacks and cryptocurrency thefts.
According to Seoul's Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, the move is a part of South Korea’s efforts to “take specific measures to counter illegal cyber activities.”
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It is worth noting that it is South Korea’s first independent sanctions package related to North Korea’s cyberattacks and cryptocurrency thefts. In the press release, South Korean authorities stated:
This is the first independent sanctions against North Korea in the cyber sector by the South Korean government. It is expected that it will serve as an opportunity to alert the world to the risk of virtual asset trading with North Korea by including the virtual asset wallet address as the identification information of the subject of sanctions.
Based on the press release, South Korea sanctioned four individuals, Park Jin-hyok, Jo Myong-rae, Song Rim, Oh Chung-Seong, and seven businesses. South Korean authorities believe that malicious actors stole crypto assets and gave them to the North Korean government to finance the country's "nuclear and missile development.”
One of the best-known hackers from South Korea's sanction list is Park Jin-hyok. It is believed that the man works for Chosun Expo Joint Venture, which is a front company for North Korean Lazarus Group. The man was allegedly involved in the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 and the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017.
Moreover, Park Jin-hyok was also blacklisted by US authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued an arrest warrant for Jin-hyok over conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as conspiracy to commit computer-related fraud.
The confidential United Nations report noted that South Korea’s foreign ministry has estimated that since 2017, North Korea-related hackers have stolen crypto worth over $1.2 billion. In 2022 alone, hackers allegedly stole around $626 million.