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Bitcoin entrepreneurs to gather in North Korea, group says

By Elizabeth Shim
Bitcoin entrepreneurs to gather in North Korea, group says
North Korea's Workers' Party (pictured) may have approved a blockchain and cryptocurrency conference this week in Pyongyang. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

April 17 (UPI) -- North Korea is hosting a conference on blockchain and cryptocurrency in Pyongyang, a Spain-based organization said Wednesday.

The Korean Friendship Association, a group with representatives in Europe and Latin America, publicized the conference in 2018. On Wednesday, the organization said the weeklong conference is to begin Thursday, South Korean news service News 1 reported.

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The Kim Jong Un regime has previously been connected to breaches of bitcoin exchanges in South Korea, the United States, Japan and Britain, according to a British think tank. North Korean hackers may have earned the country cryptocurrency that's valued between $545 million and $735 million.

KFA said Wednesday the conference is a one-of-a-kind business opportunity for companies, where world-class blockchain experts and cryptocurrency firms gather to share knowledge.

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North Korea could be seeking to attract foreign investments while acquiring blockchain technology through the conference, according to News 1.

Alejandro Cao de Benós, president of KFA, and Christopher Emms, chief executive of TokenKey, a cryptocurrency consulting firm, are the main organizers. They have said it is likely Kim Jong Un and the Korean Workers' Party directly approved the conference.

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KFA is charging about $3,700 per person. The price includes round-trip flights from Beijing to Pyongyang, accommodation, conference admission and meals. Holders of South Korean, Japanese and Israeli passports are banned from the conference, according to News 1.

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North Korea is believed to have used cryptocurrency to purchase luxury goods, including jewelry for its elites, and to protect identities when state officials purchase properties overseas.

Infrastructure in the country remains in poor condition, however, and farmers may be short on machinery.

South Korean farmers in South Jeolla Province said Wednesday they are seeking to donate 12 "unification tractors" they purchased using $400,000 in funds raised, Seoul Pyongyang News reported.

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The farmers are seeking to send the tractors by land, according to the report.

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