South Korea disputes jurisdiction over North Korean hacker attacks on crypto exchanges

Which authority in South Korea has to deal with the crypto-hacker attacks of the North Korean regime?

A heated political debate has flared up in South Korea about which authority is responsible for defending North Korean hacker attacks on domestic crypto exchanges. The South Korean financial supervisory authority had recently emphasised that it does not consider itself responsible.

According to a report by Fn News, the South Korean Financial Services Supervisory Authority (FSC) on 23 October gave the appropriate response to a written question by the Parliamentary Committee on Regulatory Affairs. The FSC does not consider itself competent to deal with stolen crypto assets stolen by the Lazarus Group, a hacker group supported by the North Korean regime.

The regulator argues that crypto exchanges simply do not fall within its remit, without giving any specific reasons for this. Instead, it considers the responsibility to lie with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Communications Authority (KCC).

However, both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the KCC consider the FSC responsible for damages caused to Crypto Bank exchanges by the hacker attacks, as these are financial matters. In this respect, they stress that the Financial Supervision Authority is „fully entrusted with the processing and supervision of virtual asset service providers, including crypto exchanges“.

The opposition parliamentarian Seong Il-jong also disagrees with the FSC’s assessment and points out that „with the amendment of the South Korean Crypto Law, all crypto-related operations have been placed under the supervision of the FSC“.

In February it was reported that the Lazarus Group had attacked several South Korean crypto exchanges in 2019.

In August, the US Army again reported that North Korea now has more than 6,000 hackers stationed in countries such as Belarus, China, India, Malaysia and Russia.