Is a North Korean Cryptocurrency On the Way?

Is a North Korean Cryptocurrency On the Way?

By Benson Toti - min read
Updated 21 March 2023

Reports from North Korea suggest that the Asian country is looking to develop its own virtual money. The North Korean cryptocurrency is expected to be similar to the Petro token issued by Venezuela in 2018.

As with the Petro, part of the reason for its introduction is believed to be to get around international sanctions and operate outside the current global financial system. However, it seems that it is still in the very early stages of development.

North Korean cryptocurrency rumours
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The Story So Far on the North Korean Cryptocurrency

Quotes on the progress of the North Korean cryptocurrency came from Alejandro Cao de Benos. This Spanish-born official is described as managing the country’s cryptocurrency conferences. He is also called a special delegate for the Committee for Cultural Relations for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

He said any new token is likely to be “more like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies”. As of yet, no name has been given to the currency. Across the border, 40% of adults in South Korea are receptive to cryptocurrencies.

There are no plans to peg this official coin to the North Korean fiat currency, the Won. However, the Government is said to be looking into which goods or assets it can be tied to. This would provide a higher degree of stability to the price.

What to Expect in the Future

February 2020 will see North Korea hold a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference, which will be the second time it hosts an event like this. The previous conference was reportedly held in Pyongyang in April this year.

One of the big questions is whether the country has enough technical expertise to launch its own cryptocurrency. The regime has been linked to large-scale cryptocurrency hacking attacks in the past. It has been claimed that North Korea has hacked more than $2 billion in fiat and cryptocurrencies lately.

While they denied being behind these attacks, if it is true it would suggest that they have state-sponsored experts in the field. Pyongyang University of Science and Technology has also been offering blockchain education courses. Dozens of the country’s best students received training in cryptocurrency creation and management as part of this.

Certainly, there has been interest shown by the North Korean authorities in digital currencies in the past. However, there has been no official confirmation of their plans. The North Korean Embassy to the UN, located in New York, was contacted but declined to comment.

Other countries linked to building their own currencies in this way include Russia and Iran. Indeed, it seems clear that many countries around the planet are now looking into the details of how to set up their own digital tokens.

The lack of success of the Petro coin to date shows us that a state-owned digital token won’t automatically be a success. We will need to follow this story to see whether a North Korean cryptocurrency is launched and will enjoy wide-spread adoption by its people.