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North Korea to Host Pyongyang Blockchain Conference

The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) is usually in the crypto news media for all the wrong reasons, but there is an indication that the Republic of Korea’s (South Korea) northern neighbor is stirring again with reports of a blockchain conference set for its capital Pyongyang later this year.

Unconfirmed reports from South Korean news agency Yonhap has suggested that a two-day international blockchain conference will take place starting 1 October. This will mark the first such event to take place in North Korea.

The report, which originated from US-based radio broadcast service Radio Free Asia (RFA), indicates that experts from the blockchain space will hold talks at the event with North Korean business officials, in what has been said is an opportunity to show off its fintech knowledge.

Another report via Yonhap indicates that unsuccessful mining attempts were made last year. The North Korean research unit of South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) stated that “North Korea appears to have tried to mine cryptocurrencies on a small scale”, adding that North Korea was looking into the “characteristics of cryptocurrencies, including anonymity, difficulties of tracing money and cashability”.

The reason for the lack of crypto mining success is as yet unclear as news of a negative nature rarely emerges from the North Korean state-run media. The mining was said to have been trialled between May and July last year.

The same research unit claims that a North Korean tech company, Chosun Expo, has been working on setting up a Bitcoin exchange platform although details are scant. It does appear, however, that North Korea, albeit late, is starting to show some interest in the technology after introducing a crypto and blockchain course at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Federico Tenga, an Italian Bitcoin entrepreneur who ran the course, suggests that students had “limited awareness” of crypto but had heard of Bitcoin. The course was also attended by some professors from the university along with a few computer science and finance students.

The KDB report indicated that North Korea is very much underdeveloped even in terms of basic computer connectivity and lacked the essentials with which to develop and meaningful fintech industry such as the lack of a blockchain infrastructure, high-performance computers, electric power, and networks to carry internet. South Korean Speconomy suggested:

“The current situation in which only a few layers of the internet can be connected will dampen the development of the virtual currency industry.”

Until now, Pyongyang’s only connection with the industry is one of alleged hackings and attempted theft from South Korean exchanges, apart from the announcement by Koryo Tours in April that they had released a travel industry coin for exclusive use in the DPRK tourist sector.

 

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