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U.S. indicts N. Korean hacker for first time

Posted September. 08, 2018 07:50,   

Updated September. 08, 2018 07:50


The U.S. government has indicted a 30-something North Korean hacker who is affiliated with the North’s General Bureau of Reconnaissance. The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday (local time) that it indicted Park Jin Hyok (34), a North Korean hacker who spearheaded Pyongyang’s cyber-attacks, for the charge of computer and tele-banking financial fraud. It is the first time that Washington has indicted a hacker in connection with cybercrimes that the North Korean government supported.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Park, a graduate of Kimchaek Engineering College in Pyongyang, used aliases including "Kim Hyon Woo," and is suspected of spearheading the hacking of Sony Pictures which produced the movie “Interview” regarding hypothetical assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2014, the hacking of the Bangladeshi central Bank that stole 81 million U.S. dollars in 2016, and the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017. He is also suspected of having launched a failed attack to hack Lockheed Martin, U.S. military contractor that produces the terminal high-altitude area defense missile defense (THAAD) system, which was deployed in South Korea in 2016-2017, it has been revealed.

Park is a member of Lazarus Group known as the North’s hacking organization, and has worked for more than 10 years as an employee of Korea Expo Joint Venture. Korea Expo, which was established first as an inter-Korean joint venture in 2002, is found to be currently operating as a disguised company linked with "Lab 110," the North Korean military’s intelligence-related unit. The U.S. Treasury Department also added Park and Korea Expo to its sanctions list on the same day.

The indictment of the North Korean hacker was announced by the Justice Department just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted to thank North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The move reveals Washington’s intention that the United States will continue sanctioning the North until the Stalinist country takes practical measures for denuclearization.

Yong Park parky@donga.com