North Korea Announces International Cryptocurrency Conference

Conor Maloney

November 22, 2018

Of all the places in the world that I can think of as crypto/blockchain conference hosts, North Korea is one of the very last – but maybe it makes sense.

North Korea has been “active” to say the very least in crypto recently, with their intelligence community allegedly behind major cryptojacking attacks targeting computers in South Korea.

Now North Korea appears to be taking a less covert approach with plans for an international blockchain and cryptocurrency conference in April 2019, To date no blockchain or cryptocurrency experts have been publicly invited to the notoriously reclusive nation, making this a groundbreaking event for North Korea and most likely an interesting and unusual conference for any visitors.

The Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference will be hosted in Pyongyang, the capital city, and attendees will be given a week-long tour of the nation including a trip to the Daedongang Beer Factory on the seventh day. Other activities include skating, bowling, shooting, and shopping.

Not For Everyone

Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few limitations and not everyone is welcome. The conference is closed to citizens of Israel, Japan, or South Korea. It’s probably also the only crypto conference ever to be closed to journalists of any kind! The conference website states:

“Any mass printed propaganda or digital/printed material against the dignity of the Republic is not allowed.”

Conferences typically offer free tickets to members of the press in the hopes that they will attend and provide the press coverage considered necessary to spread the word for future events, but North Korea is famously secretive and restrictive when it comes to foreign visitors.

Visitors are not allowed to travel anywhere in the country unaccompanied and typically regions other than certain areas of Pyongyang are completely off-limits under any circumstances. Furthermore, photography of any kind, even within Pyongyang, is illegal, making photographs highly sought after to outsiders looking for evidence to support the criticism of the government as a totalitarian regime, and this, of course, is why the press are not allowed to the conference.

Why Crypto?

Expert witness for the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain Chris Emms is one of the main organizers for the event which costs $3,700 per head. While this is the first time that an open invitation to crypto experts has been publicly extended, there are reports that Pyongyang University of Science and Technology extended invitations privately to specific cryptocurrency experts to further understanding of the technology, with Washington experts believing that the country is exploring crypto technology to develop a state crypto that can be used to bypass the US sanctions which help keep the country in perpetual poverty.

A functioning North Korean state cryptocurrency could indeed be concerning to the United States which counts on the sanctions to keep its enemy state under a degree of control. North Korea is often viewed as a proxy military base for China with South Korea officially hosts US military bases. Particularly now with the US-China trade war in full swing, it will be interesting to see what comes of the conference and whether any big names in crypto will be attending.

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