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Reading Between North Korean Lines: North Korean Hackers Try To Steal Covid-19 Vaccine Data Updated: 2021-02-17 16:05:57 KST

North Korean hackers stole technology related to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments from U.S. drugmaker Pfizer.
That's according to South Korean lawmaker, Ha Tae-keung, who says he and other lawmakers were briefed on the hack by the South's National Intelligence Service.
It is unclear when the alleged attack happened.
The NIS declined to comment and Pfizer said it would not comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, back in the public eye is Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Earlier today, the official ruling Worker's Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun released photos of that regime's first couple her first appearance in more than a year.
All things North Korea, let's talk about it on Reading Between North Korean Lines with Dr. Go Myong-hyun.

Dr. Go, great to see you.



Let's first talk about it this alleged hacking.
This is not the first time North Korean cybercriminals have been accused of stealing information related to treating Covid-19. Microsoft claimed in November that cyberattacks from North Korea targeted vaccine makers, sometimes "masquerading as World Health Organization representatives."
It's no longer news that North Koreans steal by cyber theft. We talked about it last week about North Koreans steaking millions in cyber currency.
But, does this latest piece of news say much about the desperation coming out of North Korea in trying to tap into any information surrounding coronavirus vaccines and their determination to try to figure out how to curb a possible outbreak in that regime?

If they do get their hands on this information, would North Koreans be able to copy and develop the vaccine?

Meanwhile, over the last couple months, North Korea has shown large-scale parades
yet in time for celebrations of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's father and late leader Kim Jong-il's 79th birthday, things remained low-key.
This went against speculation of major provocation, considering it's one of the biggest national holidays in North Korea.
Kim Jong-un did make a visit to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the former leader's body lies, which he hasn't skipped since taking office in 2011.
What is the message Kim Jong-un trying to send by marking the national holiday in such a low-key manner, though slightly larger than last year's?

Do you think it was kept low-key to show the people the graveness of their fragile economy amidst the pandemic?
If so, then how about for the rest of the world?

Maybe low-key, but a part of commemorating Kim Jong-il's birthday that drew global attention was Ri Sol-ju, the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
She hadn't made a public appearance since January last year for Lunar New Year's celebrations.
She was seen Tuesday as Kim and Ri attended a concert at Mansudae Art Theater.
Ri's absence from the public had stirred up a wide rage of speculation from possible pregnancy to coronavirus concerns.
What does her reappearance by Kim's side suggest - not only in terms of confidence in the North's antivirus campaign but does it suggest but are these perhaps signs of support for his next move?

Meanwhile, a North Korean in divng gear crossed the heavily-militarized border into the South undetected. The name can be deceiving as the Korean Demilitarized Zone is, in fact, one of the world's most heavily armed frontiers with nearly two million troops on both sides.
So, defections across the DMZ are relatively rare and dangerous. But, it's the second breach of its kind in recent months. What's driving these defections?

Do you see these defections further irritating the rather delicate inter-Korean relations?

In other news, North Korean media has started to refer to Kim Jong-un as "President" instead of "Chairman" in its English-language pieces.
Just last month during the party congress, he was granted the new title of "general secretary."
Is there anything to be read into from the multiple title implications?

Dr. Go Myong-hyun, as always, many thanks for your insights and expertise. We appreciate it.
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