$52M Laundered by DPRK Hackers Using S. Korea Exchanges Since 2019: Report

North Korean hackers transferred more than $52 million in cryptocurrencies to crypto exchanges in South Korea since 2019 to launder money or dodge sanctions, according to S. Korean lawmaker Yoon Han-hong. The data was provided by Chainalysis upon Yoon’s request.

South Korean Lawmaker Taps Chainalysis to Trace Wallets Belonging to DPRK Hackers

South Korean lawmaker Yoon Han-hong said Wednesday that hackers from North Korea transferred roughly $52.46 million worth of cryptocurrencies to S. Korea-based digital asset exchanges since 2019 to avoid sanctions or for money-laundering activities. The findings come after Yoon requested this report from the U.S. blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis.

“The total amount of fund inflow [into exchanges in South Korea and overseas] from North Korean hacker groups has been constantly growing.”

said the report by Chainalysis.

The reported data reinforces previous suggestions that hackers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have been actively laundering money through South Korean crypto exchanges. One of the reasons for this is that cryptocurrencies are “the only investment measure” in North Korea, said Hwang Suk-jin, a professor of information security at Dongguk University in Seoul.

“As it can be liquidated anywhere in the world, I believe [crypto] is used to launder funds for the regime and in managing intelligence operations.”

Hwang added.

Chainalysis’ findings come after the crypto analysis firm successfully traced several intermediary deposit crypto addresses that have been exposed to wallets linked to North Korean hackers. Chainalysis, which has previously collaborated with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Europol, holds the largest amount of crypto data in the world.

South Korea Becomes a “Playground” for North Korean Hackers

Yoon’s announcement comes several months after Chainalysis issued a separate report saying that the DPRK stole a total of $400 million across seven hacking attempts on crypto exchanges in 2021. North Korea is also home to the Lazarus Group, a cyber-terrorist group behind the $600 million Ronin exploit.

The attack on Ronin marked one of the biggest crypto hacks ever. Part of the stolen funds was moved to Binance, though the world’s biggest crypto exchange managed to recover around $5.8 million. Members of the Lazarus Group are still unidentified though it is believed that the organization is run by the North Korean state.

News outlets in South Korea reported that local crypto exchanges may have become a “playground” for North Korean hackers. The hackers use South Korean exchanges to liquidate their crypto assets, which are then “transferred to a third country and then delivered back to North Korea,” Hwang added.

This article originally appeared on The Tokenist

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