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US imposes sanctions on four N. Korean organizations, one individual for illegal cyber activities

By Yonhap

Published : May 24, 2023 - 09:41

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WASHINGTON -- The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on four North Korean organizations and one North Korean national for engaging in illegal cyber activities that help fund the country's illicit weapons development programs.

The Department of Treasury said those put on the blacklist "obfuscated revenue generation and malicious cyber activities that support the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government," referring to North Korea by its official name.

"The DPRK conducts malicious cyber activities and deploys information technology workers who fraudulently obtain employment to generate revenue, including in virtual currency, to support the Kim regime and its priorities, such as its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs," it added.

The designated North Korean organizations include the Pyongyang University of Automation, which the department said is responsible for "training malicious cyber actors, many of whom go on to work in cyber units subordinate to the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

The department also designated the "RGB-controlled Technical Reconnaissance Bureau and its subordinate cyber unit, the 110th Research Center."

"The DPRK-based Technical Reconnaissance Bureau leads the DPRK's development of offensive cyber tactics and tools and operates several departments, including those affiliated with the Lazarus Group," it said in a press release.

Also designated are Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company, also known as Jinryong IT Cooperation Company, which "employs delegations of DPRK IT workers that operate in Russia and Laos," and Kim Sang-man, a North Korean national based in Vladivostok who is "presumed to be involved in the payment of salaries to family members of Chinyong's overseas DPRK worker delegations," according to the treasury department.

"One such representative of the Chinyong office located in Vladivostok, Russia, DPRK-national Kim Sang-man is presumed to be involved in the payment of salaries to family members of Chinyong's overseas DPRK worker delegations," said the press release.

"Today's action continues to highlight the DPRK's extensive illicit cyber and IT worker operations, which finance the regime's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs," Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson was quoted as saying.

"The United States and our partners remain committed to combating the DPRK's illicit revenue generation activities and continued efforts to steal money from financial institutions, virtual currency exchanges, companies, and private individuals around the world," Nelson added, according to the treasury department.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was taking steps in coordination with South Korea, which concurrently imposed unilateral sanctions on North Korean organizations and individuals associated with illicit cyber activities.

"Today's Treasury action includes three targets that the ROK recently designated for engaging in cyber operations and illicit revenue generation that support the DPRK's WMD programs. We will not hesitate to continue holding the DPRK regime responsible for its actions," Blinken said in a released statement, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

Seoul earlier said it was imposing sanctions on three organizations and seven individuals involved in North Korea's illegal cyber activities. (Yonhap)