Pyongyang University, which is popularly considered as the breeding grounds for all North Korea’s hackers, is now teaching courses on Cryptocurrencies.
Despite a number of accusations that North Korean government has been mining and stealing Bitcoins, the course’s existence is being termed as the “first hard evidence” of the country’s fascination with Cryptocurrencies.
The director of Recorded Future and strategic threat development at CIA commented that this course should not be mistaken as a compassionate academic exchange, as everything in the country is carefully managed and evaluated by the regime.
Bitcoin Startup Founder Visit
Early in this month, founder of Bitcoin startup, Federico Tenga, visited Pyongyang for teaching over three dozens of North Korea’s top students about Blockchain and Bitcoin technology.
The teaching session was arranged after Tenga contacted the Pyongyan University of Science and Technology, in order to offer a presentation on the popular Cryptocurrency at an upcoming finance seminar, which was scheduled to take place. However, the conference was cancelled due to President Donald Trump’s ban on United States citizen travelling to Hermit Kingdom.
The university then contacted Mr. Tenga and invited him to teach Cryptocurrency course in the campus.
Mr. Tenga taught the students over the duration of a week, delivering a 90-minute lecture to a group of 40 students, all with ages between 20 to 25. Mr. Tenga also arranged an additional seminar for the university’s faculty members.
Mr. Tenga stated that most of the students were knowledgeable regarding the world outside North Korea’s borders, spoke excellent English, and had heard a bit about Bitcoin, however, their understanding of the cryptocurrency’s fundamentals, such as trading and underpinning mining was greatly lacking. Following this, Mr. Tenga returned from the country uncertain about North Korea Cryptocurrency capabilities.
Recorded Future further stated that the university is allowed to offer this course and bring in a foreign expert to educate their students is because the senior leaders and the government has realized the potential of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies as a solid generator of funds for the country.
While there is no official comment from Pyongyang University of Science and Technology regarding the new Cryptocurrency course, a university spokesman has stated that the teaching is intended to support the DPRK by constructing capacity that allows for effective benefits and development for people of the DPRK. He further stated that they are aware of risks of misappropriate or misuse of resources and any sanctions issue, which may arise, and are well-versed to take care of any sensitive areas.
Earlier in 2017, Fireeye, U.S. cyber security firm, blamed North Korea of using dispersed malware and spear phishing to attack three of South Korean Cryptocurrency exchanges. A spokesperson from Fireeye further stated that economic sanctions are presumed to be the main motivation behind the country’s [North Korea] engagement with Cryptocurrencies, while also commenting that the regime is probably seeing it as a low-cost solution to bring in hard cash.