Following rumors that North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-Un is either in declining health or dead, reports started circulating that the country’s Bitcoin (BTC) reserves will be sold.
According to a March 2019 report, at the time North Korea already held about $670 million in crypto assets. This non-trivial amount of cryptocurrency is by many believed to be under Jong-Un’s direct control.
Because recent reports suggest that North Korea’s leader’s life is in danger after a failed heart surgery, many are afraid that the country’s crypto holdings may be sold, causing the price to drop.
Jong-Un’s BTC dump: a joke turned rumor
Furthermore, market correspondent at crypto news outlet CoinDesk Zack Voell recently posted a joke on Twitter that has seen over a thousand likes, in which he claimed that Jong-Un’s Bitcoin was moved onto the U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase.
Kim Jong-Un’s deleted Bitcoin transfer joke. Source: Twitter
At a later time, he deleted his tweet and explained his reasons in another message:
“I deleted the […] tweet so people stop asking me for a tx hash and because some crypto media outlets are still taking it seriously. The stupidity in this industry is just incredible.”
As Voell’s tweet suggested, several cryptocurrency news outlets reported on how Jong-Un’s declining health can result in Bitcoin’s price, with some taking Voell’s now-deleted tweet seriously. At a later time, he tweeted:
“I can’t believe I have to say this, but North Korea will not market dump all of their bitcoins (or monero) if Kim Jong-Un is actually dead.”
North Korea’s relationship with cryptocurrency
North Korea’s notorious secrecy means we do not have much confirmed information on the government’s use of cryptocurrencies. Still, as CryptoNewspeople reported in mid-March, blockchain forensics firm CipherTrace claimed in a report that two Chinese nationals laundered tens of millions of dollars worth of stolen cryptocurrency on behalf of the North Korean regime.
In February, a study revealed that North Korea’s internet increased three times over the past three years, as the country’s regime has continued to rely on cryptocurrencies for various activities.