According to a recent study, North Korea has vastly expanded its use of the internet in ways that enable its leader Kim Jong Un to evade the 'maximum pressure' US sanctions campaign and turn to new forms of cybercrime to prop up the government.
North Korea's use of the internet has reportedly surged about 300% and nearly half that traffic now flows through a new connection in Russia. This has further led North Korea to surpass its longtime dependency on a single digital pipeline through China.
According to the reports, the surge has a clear purpose of circumventing financial pressure and sanctions by the West. The study concluded that North Korea has also improved its ability to both steal and 'mine' cryptocurrencies, hide its footprints in gaining technology for its nuclear program and cyber operations, and use the internet for the day-to-day control of its government.
The reports also solve the mystery of why the country's economy appears to have survived -- and in some sectors actually grown, -- even though the United States and its allies have reportedly talked about choking off their supplies and cracking down on North Korea's skilful production of counterfeit US currency.
North Korea's survival has further complicated the Trump administration paralysis in dealing with the Kim Jong Un regime. Back in 2019, North Korea had appeared to threaten the US with an expected resumption of its intercontinental ballistic missile program. Moreover, reports suggest that Kim is poised to take advantage of the situation as he continues to invest in the nuclear program and pour resources into the cyber program that is both a potent weapon and a revenue generator.
On December 11, US Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft, while speaking at the Security Council warned North Korea against further missile and nuclear tests. She had raised concerns about North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests which will bring the US in its range. Craft said that the US has sought to engage in “robust diplomacy with the DPRK”, but the signs were deeply troubling.
“Let me be clear, we have not asked North Korea to do everything, before we do anything. We are prepared to be flexible, but we cannot solve this problem alone,” remarked the Ambassador after the Council meeting. Craft suggested North Korea avoid provocations and engage in dialogue. “Peace is a better way, and peace can only be achieved by doing this together,” Craft had said.