Last week bitcoin surpassed the US$10,000 mark for the first time. At time of writing it’s trading at $11,759.59.
The potential of this virtual gold mine hasn’t been lost on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
North Korea has started training their top university students in bitcoin, according to Vice News.
Rumours have been swirling for the better part of the year about North Korea’s cryptocurrency activity.
And now, Kim Jong-un seems to have recruited the Italian founder of Chainside, Federico Tenga, to train their brightest students in a bitcoin crash course.
For the most part, Tenga had an enjoyable trip.
He tweeted his relief in being able to access Twitter and Google, dubiously claiming, ‘Differently from China here there is no censorship.’
North Korea’s interest in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been the topic of much speculation. But Tenga fought back rumours of mining activity once out of the country.
Most of the students there had some idea of what bitcoin was. But these top students didn’t seem to have the knowledge required for mining, or even dealing directly with bitcoin.
According to Vice, Tenga is under the impression that other analysts may have interpreted their testing exchanges as mining.
A report by Recorded Future claims that North Korea had been mining bitcoin since May 2017. The report argues that around that time, they began redirecting some of their malware efforts to cryptocurrency mining.
Recorded Future claims that North Korea may have even been using personal computers around the world to run the mining software.
But the rumours didn’t end there.
According to a report by FireEye, North Korea had also been hacking cryptocurrency wallets with the intention of stealing bitcoins.
In fact, they estimate that North Korea targeted at least three South Korean crypto exchanges. And that’s just in five months, between May and September of this year.
Although, FireEye believe they have records of North Korea hacking exchanges as early as 2016.
Clearly, North Korea hopes to do a run around the sanctions imposed on them by the UN by turning to cryptocurrencies. It would allow them to deal internationally without being tracked.
Whether or not the past reports were accurate, Tenga’s invitation to Kim Jong-un’s home country confirms one thing. At the very least, Jong-un and North Korea are interested in cryptocurrencies.
Now the big question is, will this be another step closer to mass adoption?
Or will this be the trigger for governments around the world to crackdown and ban bitcoin?