North Korea plans to host an international summit of experts from the cryptocurrency industry. The Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference will be held in April of next year at a science and technology center in the national capital.
Delegates to Pay €3,300 to Attend the Forum
Alejandro Cao de Benós, a special delegate for the North Korean government’s Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, announced the upcoming event in a tweet this week. According to the conference’s official website, the event will be held between April 18 and 25, 2019. International experts in the field will gather “for the first time in Pyongyang to share their knowledge and vision, establish connections and discuss business opportunities.”
The main summit will only take two days, but attendees will also enjoy an organized tour of the country that will include a trip to the city of Kaesong and a visit to Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The Korean War Museum, the Juche Tower and the Kim Il Sung Square will be part of the itinerary as well.
During the first few days of their stay, the guests will be taken to the Great People’s Study House and the Pyongyang University of Foreign Languages. And before they leave, they will visit an information technology company, the Taedonggang beer brewery and conduct private business meetings with their counterparts.
Recreational activities such as skating, bowling, shooting and shopping will all be part of the program, which will cost delegates €3,300 (~$3,760). The amount includes accommodation at a three-star hotel with three daily meals, including a vegetarian menu, transportation, Korean-English translation services and access to the conference venue. However, participants will have to pay for their visas separately, which cost another €80 each.
South Koreans, Japanese, Israelis and Journalists Not Allowed
The actual forum itself will only take place on April 22 and 23 at the Pyongyang Sci-Tech Complex. Interested representatives from the international cryptocurrency industry are welcome to join, except for citizens of South Korea, Japan and Israel. Holders of U.S. passports will be allowed to apply, but the event will be closed to the media.
Participants and lecturers are required to send copies of their passports, as well as contact information and short resumes that identify their positions, as well as the companies or organizations they represent. The documents will be accepted up until Feb. 10, 2019. The FAQ section of the event website assures attendees that North Korea “can be considered the safest country in the world.”
Cao de Benós, who is also the president of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), will lead the conference in cooperation with cryptocurrency expert Chris Emms. According to The Independent, Emms currently serves as an expert within Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain, a forum that was set up to make the U.K. a leader in distributed ledger technologies and related innovations.
North Korea and Cryptocurrencies
Pyongyang’s plans to organize an international crypto event were first announced this past August. According to a report by U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), the event was initially scheduled to take place in October of this year. The broadcaster quoted one security expert as saying that the North Korean government wanted to demonstrate its capabilities in the field of crypto technologies at what it referred to as the first Korean International Blockchain Conference.
Earlier reports that the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology had started offering crypto courses appeared to confirm the country’s intentions to develop its potential in the cryptocurrency space. There have also been numerous other reports indicating that North Korea, which is currently under western economic sanctions, had become interested in crypto technologies because of the opportunities they provide for unrestricted and anonymous global transactions.
Over the past year, the North Korean government has been accused by officials in Seoul and Washington of a number of alleged crimes related to cryptocurrencies. In February, the South Korean intelligence service said that hackers associated with the North had been trying to attack digital asset exchanges in the South. And in March, a former representative of the U.S. National Security Agency claimed the North had obtained11,000 bitcoins, worth more than $200 million at the time, through mining and hacking activities in 2017.
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