South Korea Arrests Two Men Paid in Crypto to Spy for North Korea

South Korean police have arrested two men, an army captain and a businessman who runs a digital asset company, for allegedly stealing military secrets for a suspected Pyongyang spy who paid them in cryptocurrency. 

Seoul Police confirmed that both suspects were paid in crypto to obtain information from the military database to its long-time rival, North Korea. 

The soldier received about $37,789 worth of cryptocurrency while his partner was paid $600,000 for the crime.

The police noted that this is the first time an active army officer has betrayed the country by complying with a rival to steal classified information.

The captain was accused of falsely obtaining information from South Korea’s Joint Command and Control System, an internal military communications network. 

His partner was also charged for providing a wristwatch with a secret camera to help in gathering classified information and for purchasing and assembling a hacking software called the “Poison Tap” to penetrate the Joint Command & Control System. 

Both suspects have been charged with violating  the National Security Act. 

“We will strictly respond to security criminals in accordance with the laws and principles,” Seoul’s prosecution office said in a statement.

A Long Time Coming

According to the police, the suspects met and communicated with the North Korean spy in an online crypto community on Telegram where the operation was planned. 

The trio communicated constantly for about six years and were careful enough to erase their messages in a bid to conceal their plan. 

Meanwhile, North and South Korea have been rival countries since the end of the Korean War in 1953. 

U.S. Authorities Accuse North Korea of Exploitation

North Korea has received several backlash in the past for deploying spies to other nations and sending hackers to exploit businesses around the world. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department accused Lazarus, an infamous North Korean hacking group, of stealing more than $600 million from blockchain gaming project, Axie Infinity. According to the agency, the Ethereum wallet address linked to the hack belonged to Lazarus.