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North Korea secret IT division accused of facilitating illicit online gambling platforms

February 20, 2024 North KoreaSouth Korea iGaming & Gambling

The South Korean National Intelligence Service has discovered that many illicit online gambling websites are operated inside the country by North Korea’s hidden IT division.

This IT division, called “Gyeongheung,” answers to Room 39, a well-known North Korean division that focuses on obtaining revenue from outside sources. The National Intelligence Service claims that Gyeongheung supplied South Korean criminal groups with a significant number of gaming websites, thus aiding in the collection of illicit foreign currency. For the first time, North Korea has admitted its involvement in South Korea’s domestic computer game industry.

Based in Dandong, China, North Korea’s Gyeongheung Information Technology Exchange Company employs fifteen individuals to develop software, including gambling websites, according to a briefing from the National Intelligence Service. Under the guise of a local garment company, the enterprise is managed by a Chinese-North Korean businessman.

Members of Gyeongheung are charged with fabricating IT credentials and Chinese identification documents to get around UN sanctions that prevent North Korean employees from working abroad. The gang reportedly charges KRW 6.5 million ($5,000) for each website and KRW 4 million ($3,000) for maintenance each month. The money is allegedly sent via Chinese bank accounts or accounts that are stolen from South Korean online gaming organizations.

It is also said that members of Gyeongheung have administrative access to a number of gaming websites, giving them the ability to steal user data and introduce harmful viruses. In a database that the organization is selling, at least 1,100 pieces of information about South Koreans have been found, according to the National Intelligence Service.

Crime syndicates in South Korea kept doing business with Gyeongheung despite knowing that they were descended from North Koreans, attracted by the company’s low production prices and fluency in Korean.

Original story by: Asia Gaming Brief

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