December 31, 2019

How To Really Help Free North Koreans Through Crypto

By Yaya J. Fanusie

A few weeks ago, the FBI arrested an Alabama-born computer programmer for allegedly helping the North Korean regime evade U.S. sanctions through blockchain technology. According to the indictment, Ethereum developer Virgil Griffith provided technical education at an April 2019 blockchain conference in Pyongyang run by the regime. He also reportedly conspired to send cryptocurrency between North Korea and South Korea and encouraged other Americans to attend another Pyongyang blockchain conference scheduled for 2020.

Many prominent voices in the crypto space condemn Griffith’s actions, but there has been sympathy in some corners from those who echo Griffith’s line of thinking: He argued that spreading knowledge about blockchain and crypto could help bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

Such thinking is illogical. And it is blind to the nature of the Kim Jong Un regime, the actual nuclear threat, and the high stakes involved in the conflict. North Korea is the world’s most controlled society. Giving its ruling elites new capabilities to circumvent sanctions only helps them better enrich themselves. It increases their stranglehold on power and makes the regime more recalcitrant toward diplomatic engagement. The North Korean people have continued to suffer for decades precisely because sophisticated sanctions evasion schemes help the regime fill its coffers and, thus, maintain the status quo.

Read the full article in Forbes.

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