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Seoul approves first sanctions against North Korean hackers

Seoul, Feb 10 (EFE).- The South Korean government approved its first unilateral sanctions Friday against North Korean individuals, entities linked to cryptocurrency theft and other illegal cyber activities at a time when Pyongyang continues to reinforce its hacking programs, making record profits.

Seoul said it is sanctioning four individuals and seven organizations linked to the General Reconnaissance Bureau, North Korea’s military intelligence office, whose work has helped finance the regime’s weapons of mass destruction programs, according to a statement published by the southern chancellery.

Among those sanctioned is Park Jin-hyok, a programmer accused of participating in the computer attack on Hollywood production company Sony Pictures in 2014 and in the WannaCry ransomware attacks in 2017.

Also Cho Myung-rae, accused of developing viruses, Song Rim, who has developed and marketed “phishing” applications and Oh Chung-seong, who develops telecommunications programs for the North Korean Defense Ministry.

Among the entities sanctioned is the famous Lazarus group, which perpetrated the biggest cyber robbery of 2022 by seizing more than $ 600 million from the online video game “Axie infinity,” according to a UN report some media have advanced this week.

That same report includes the name of another group sanctioned today by Seoul, Andariel.

South Korea said it hopes these sanctions “serve to alert the world about the risk that North Korea poses for the trade of virtual assets,” according to the Foreign Ministry text.

Seoul and Washington vowed to work to keep a closer eye on the loopholes the regime uses to continue funding its nuclear and missile programs despite a rigid framework of United Nations sanctions on the isolated country. EFE


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