North Korea's army of hackers stole hundreds of millions of dollars throughout much of last year to pay for the regime's nuclear and ballistic missile programs violating international law.
That's according to a confidential United Nations report we learned of earlier this week.
Meanwhile, North Korea's state media reported that on the second day of its Workers' Party plenary meeting on Tuesday, leader Kim Jong-un ordered the paths for his ruling Workers' Party to take with South Korea and external affairs.
Let's go in-depth on Reading Between North Korean Lines with Dr. Go Myong-hyun.
Dr. Go, great to see you again.
Let's begin with this confidential report authored by the UN Panel of Experts on North Korea.
It accuses the regime of leader Kim Jong Un of conducting "operations against financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses" to pay for weapons and keep North Korea's struggling economy afloat.
UN and industry experts are pointing finger at North Korea for a 2-hundred-81 million dollar cyber theft Seychelles-based KuCoin likely the victim.
Back to the confidential UN report, it reads North Korea's total theft of virtual assets, from 2019 to November 2020 was approximately 316.4 million dollars.
North Korea, as we know, has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006 and the sanctions have been strengthened by the 15-member Security Council over the years. Is this how the Kim regime has been sustaining itself and the regime's nuclear and missiles development?
The report also alleges that North Korea continues to seek material and technology for its weapons programs from overseas - are we talking about Iran? And how do expect the United Nations and the U.S. to respond to this?
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the new Biden administration will not move "too soon" or alone on neither North Korea nor Iran. He highlighted the importance of working in close coordination with partner countries like South Korea and Japan on North Korea.
What does the mean by this and would you agree with these points?
Since Kim Jong-un's rare and forthright acknowledgement of his previous economic plan having failed with tears Kim is presiding over a Workers' Party plenary meeting in works of a new 5-year economic development plan.
Kim Jong-un, on day one, slammed the regime's economic agencies.
What can we expect to be the result of the plenary meeting, which has no end date announced yet?
How will the new 5-year economic development plan be different from the previously failed one?
On the second day, while raising the issue of reshaping relations with South Korea "as required by the prevailing situation and the changed times," Kim criticized Seoul for offering cooperation in "non-fundamental" areas such as COVID-19 aid and tourism and said it should stop buying arms from and conducting military drills with the United States. What does Kim Jong-un want from Seoul and Washington?
Last but not least, North Korea is expected to receive to receive nearly two million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility by June this year. As we've seen with the inoculation campaigns in the U.S. and Europe - South Korea has held multiple dry runs - there needs to be a meticulous procedure in place and infrastructure to successfully carry out this Covid-19 vaccination scheme. From transportation, storage and to the actually jab.
Does North Korea have the capacity? Will they not need help from South Korea or other countries for basic infrastructure etc?
Dr. Go Myong-hyun, as always, thank you for you insights and expertise. We appreciate it.