UN boycotts cryptocurrency conference in North Korea
UN boycotts cryptocurrency conference in North Korea

UN boycotts cryptocurrency conference in North Korea

By Eleonora Spagnolo - 15 Jan 2020

Chevron down

The UN intends to boycott the cryptocurrency conference to be held in February in North Korea. This was revealed by Reuters, who said that UN international sanctions experts, in a report about to be handed over to the UN Security Council, had invited participants not to attend the event to be held from February 22nd to 29th in Pyongyang.

This is the second edition of the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference. The first was held last April and it was a success in terms of attendance, at least according to the official website, so much so that the organizers wanted to replicate it.

However, UN experts argue that among the topics on the agenda there will also be the issue of how cryptocurrency is useful for money laundering and avoiding sanctions. For this reason, it is necessary that the countries of the guests should do something to prevent any intervention that might help in this regard.

Moreover, North Korea has been able to raise $2 billion to invest in weapons of mass destruction using a system of “widespread and sophisticated” cyber-attacks against banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to the UN. It is, therefore, necessary to prohibit this kind of participation.

It is forbidden to go to the cryptocurrency conference in North Korea

There is already a precedent of an Ethereum developer arrested for attending the last conference in April. It concerns Virgil Griffith, who, according to the US authorities, travelled to Korea without permission, whereas his speech at the conference would constitute a violation of the ban on the provision of services to the North Korean Republic, which must be authorized by the United States. 

Basically, the charge is that he conspired and violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Griffith would have received an express ban, but he had nevertheless participated in the event with a speech dedicated to blockchain technology. 

Virgil Griffith was arrested in late November 2019 and was later released on bail. At the time of his arrest, Vitalik Buterin himself stood up for him. Before the trip, Virgil Griffith pointed out that his was a personal initiative and was not going to represent the Ethereum Foundation. When he was arrested, Vitalik Buterin confirmed this version and added:

“Geopolitical open-mindedness is a virtue. It’s admirable to go to a group of people that one has been trained since childhood to believe is a Maximum Evil Enemy, and hear out what they have to say. The world would be better if more people on all sides did that.

I don’t think what Virgil did gave DPRK any kind of real help in doing anything bad. He delivered a presentation based on publicly available info about open-source software. There was no weird hackery “advanced tutoring”. And if there was any indication that it was going in that direction, I would have reacted much more strongly against it”.

Words fallen on deaf ears, as the trial against the developer will continue and the United Nations itself is now discouraging participation in the North Korean event.


Eleonora Spagnolo

Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.

We use cookies to make sure you can have the best experience on our site. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it.