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U.S. issues fresh North Korea sanctions over ‘illicit’ IT workforce

According to the Treasury Department, the United States on Tuesday announced new sanctions against North Korea in relation to to thousands of IT workers, many of whom work in China and Russia, whose work is allegedly used to support the country’s nuclear and missile programs.

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One individual, Kim Sang Man, and the North Korea-based Chinyong Information Technology Cooperation Company were sanctioned jointly by the United States and South Korea in relation to their IT worker activities, the Treasury said.

North Korea oversees thousands of IT workers around the world, primarily located in China and Russia, the Treasury further clarified. These workers “generate revenue that contributes to its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

The workers hide their identities, locations, and nationalities and use forged documentation to apply for jobs, it further said.

Three other groups – 110th Research Center, the Pyongyang University of Automation, and the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau – had been previously sanctioned by South Korea for engaging in cyber operations and illicit revenue generation that support North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs, the Treasury elaborated.

“Today’s action continues to highlight North Korea’s extensive illicit cyber and IT worker operations, which finance the regime’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement.

The Treasury noted that the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau leads North Korea’s offensive cyber efforts and oversees departments affiliated with the Lazarus Group.

Lazarus has been accused of carrying out the largest virtual currency heist to date in March 2022, when it allegedly stole about USD 620 million in virtual currency from a blockchain project linked to the online game Axie Infinity.

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