S Korea sanctions North’s spy chief for illicit cyber activities

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South Korea has sanctioned the head of North Korea’s intelligence agency over illicit cyber activities following Pyongyang’s recent launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Pyongyang is already under international sanctions for its atomic bomb and ballistic missile programs, which have seen rapid progress under North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The announcement came weeks after Seoul, Tokyo and Washington launched new three-way initiatives encompassing measures to address North Korea’s cybercrime, cryptocurrency, and money laundering activities, which are believed to fund the country’s nuclear and missile programs.

Ri Chang Ho, the head of Pyongyang’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, has been sanctioned for his involvement in “earning foreign currency through illegal cyber activities and technology theft,” Seoul’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

His activities have contributed to “generating revenue for the North Korean regime and procuring funds for its nuclear and missile activities,” it added.

Ri heads the agency that is believed to be the parent organization for North Korean hacking groups Kimsuky, Lazarus and Andariel, which have been previously sanctioned by Seoul.

Along with Ri, Seoul has sanctioned seven other North Korean individuals, including former China-based diplomat Yun Chol, for being involved in the “trade of lithium-6, a nuclear-related mineral and U.N.-sanctioned material for North Korea.”

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