By Lauren Jackson, Former Legal Research Intern
Edited by Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Editor, and Benjamin Fu, HRNK Research Intern
June 23, 2020
The growing field of cryptocurrency is the new forum for rogue states and bad actors to earn a profit and finance criminal activities. Due to the largely unregulated and unsecured nature of the crypto industry as it stands today, there are very few consequences for stealing cryptocurrency. North Korea has exploited this vulnerability, and experts believe that the Kim regime exchanges coins for currency or physical goods to finance and support its leadership as well as nuclear and ballistic missile programs. If North Korea is able to gain a steady revenue of funds from cryptocurrency, then the regime will continue to perpetrate human rights abuses. North Korean leadership will have no financial incentive to end its human rights violations if the country’s cybercrimes involving cryptocurrency render sanctions useless. Skirting sanctions enables North Korea to maintain its gulags, to keep its borders closed, and to continue to isolate its citizens from the rest of the world.
HRNK staff members and interns wish to dedicate this program to our colleague Katty Chi. A native of Chile and graduate of the London School of Economics, Katty became a North Korean human rights defender in her early 20s. Katty was chief of international affairs with the North Korea Strategy Center (NKSC) in Seoul from 2010 to 2014 and worked with the Seoul Office of Liberty in North Korea (LinK) from 2019 to 2020. A remarkable member of our small North Korean human rights community, Katty brought inspiration and good humor to all. Katty passed away in Seoul this past May, at the young age of 32. She is survived by her parents and brother living in Chile. With the YPWP series, we endeavor to honor Katty’s life and work.