North Korea Plans to Launch Cryptocurrency to Bypass Economic Sanctions

North Korea Is Building a ‘DPRK Token’

Another nation state is in the midst of creating a digital currency but the North Korean cryptocurrency idea is intended to work in parallel with the local Korean won. Alejandro Cao de Benós, a member of the DPRK Committee for Cultural Relations and President of the Korean Friendship Association, told various news outlets this week that a DPRK token is in the works. Between April 18 and 25 of this year, North Korea held a cryptocurrency and blockchain conference which saw around 100 attendees in Pyongyang. Immediately after the event wrapped up, rumors of the North Korean government creating a digital currency made mainstream headlines. News publication The Diplomat reported that early clues also started arising in September 2017 when Kim Il Sung University released a report on the importance of digital currencies. Moreover, The Diplomat columnist Tae-jun Kang said that the conference itself and the DPRK token announcement was a signal to other nation states like the U.S.

“According to several Seoul-based North Korean experts, who believe the latest cryptocurrency conference in Pyongyang was designed to send out a warning message to the United States and the international community that it can overcome sanctions by utilizing digital currencies,” Tae-jun Kang wrote in April 2019 after the conference in Pyongyang.

North Korean representative Alejandro Cao de Benós says a DPRK token is being constructed, but the project is in its very early stages.

Now Alejandro Cao de Benós is speaking on the subject with a few select news outlets this week and has told reporters that a DPRK token is being built. Speaking with Vice journalist David Gilbert, he said the digital token North Korea is constructing is still in its nascent stages, but clearly emphasized that the cryptocurrency was made to bypass strict U.S. and international sanctions. However, the new coin created by the North Korean government will not be a digitized version of the Korean won. “[It will be] more like bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies,” Cao de Benós told Gilbert during a phone conversation. The North Korean diplomat added:

“We are still in the very early stages in the creation of the token. Now we are in the phase of studying the goods that will give value to it.”


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