Financial TimesFinancial Times

How North Korea became a mastermind of crypto cyber crime

By Scott Chipolina and Christian Davies

14 Nov 2022 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

Cryptocurrency theft is helping to keep the North Korean regime financially afloat and is partly financing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. The FT provides us with an astonishing report.

Created by a Vietnamese gaming studio, Axie Infinity offers players the chance to breed, trade and fight Pokémon-like cartoon monsters to earn cryptocurrencies including the game’s own “Smooth Love Potion” digital token. At one stage, it had more than a million active players.

But earlier this year, the network of blockchains that underpin the game’s virtual world was raided by a North Korean hacking syndicate, which made off with roughly $620mn in the ether cryptocurrency.

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