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North Korea announces international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

The program for the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference includes bowling, shooting and a trip to a beer factory

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The Independent Tech

North Korea has announced plans to hold an international blockchain and cryptocurrency conference, marking the first time industry experts have been publicly invited to the reclusive state.

The Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference will take place in the nation’s capital in April 2019 and attendees will be treated to a seven-day tour of the country.

For €3,300 (£2,900), conference delegates will be receive an all-inclusive stay in North Korea, together with activities like skating, bowling, shooting and shopping.

The seventh day of the cryptocurrency conference schedule also includes a trip to the Daedonggang Beer Factory.

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Bitcoin’s volatile history in pictures

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North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

Shape
Created with Sketch.

Bitcoin’s volatile history in pictures

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

1/8 Satoshi Nakamoto creates the first bitcoin block in 2009

On 3 January, 2009, the genesis block of bitcoin appeared. It came less than a year after the pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto detailed the cryptocurrency in a paper titled ‘Bitcoin: A peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’

Reuters

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

2/8 Bitcoin is used as a currency for the first time

On 22 May, 2010, the first ever real-world bitcoin transaction took place. Lazlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins – the equivalent of $90 million at today’s prices

Lazlo Hanyecz

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

3/8 Silk Road opens for business

Bitcoin soon gained notoriety for its use on the dark web. The Silk Road marketplace, established in 2011, was the first of hundreds of sites to offer illegal drugs and services in exchange for bitcoin

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

4/8 The first bitcoin ATM appears

On 29 October, 2013, the first ever bitcoin ATM was installed in a coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada. The machine allowed people to exchange bitcoins for cash

REUTERS/Dimitris Michalakis

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

5/8 The fall of MtGox

The world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, MtGox, filed for bankruptcy in February 2014 after losing almost 750,000 of its customers bitcoins. At the time, this was around 7 per cent of all bitcoins and the market inevitably crashed

Getty Images

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

6/8 Would the real Satoshi Nakamoto please stand up

In 2015, Australian police raided the home of Craig Wright after the entrepreneur claimed he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He later rescinded the claim

Getty Images

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

7/8 Bitcoin’s big split

On 1 August, 2017, an unresolvable dispute within the bitcoin community saw the network split. The fork of bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology spawned a new cryptocurrency: Bitcoin cash

REUTERS

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

8/8 Bitcoin’s price sky rockets

Towards the end of 2017, the price of bitcoin surged to almost $20,000. This represented a 1,300 per cent increase from its price at the start of the year

Reuters

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

1/8 Satoshi Nakamoto creates the first bitcoin block in 2009

On 3 January, 2009, the genesis block of bitcoin appeared. It came less than a year after the pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto detailed the cryptocurrency in a paper titled ‘Bitcoin: A peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’

Reuters

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

2/8 Bitcoin is used as a currency for the first time

On 22 May, 2010, the first ever real-world bitcoin transaction took place. Lazlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins – the equivalent of $90 million at today’s prices

Lazlo Hanyecz

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

3/8 Silk Road opens for business

Bitcoin soon gained notoriety for its use on the dark web. The Silk Road marketplace, established in 2011, was the first of hundreds of sites to offer illegal drugs and services in exchange for bitcoin

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

4/8 The first bitcoin ATM appears

On 29 October, 2013, the first ever bitcoin ATM was installed in a coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada. The machine allowed people to exchange bitcoins for cash

REUTERS/Dimitris Michalakis

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

5/8 The fall of MtGox

The world’s biggest bitcoin exchange, MtGox, filed for bankruptcy in February 2014 after losing almost 750,000 of its customers bitcoins. At the time, this was around 7 per cent of all bitcoins and the market inevitably crashed

Getty Images

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

6/8 Would the real Satoshi Nakamoto please stand up

In 2015, Australian police raided the home of Craig Wright after the entrepreneur claimed he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He later rescinded the claim

Getty Images

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

7/8 Bitcoin’s big split

On 1 August, 2017, an unresolvable dispute within the bitcoin community saw the network split. The fork of bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology spawned a new cryptocurrency: Bitcoin cash

REUTERS

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

8/8 Bitcoin’s price sky rockets

Towards the end of 2017, the price of bitcoin surged to almost $20,000. This represented a 1,300 per cent increase from its price at the start of the year

Reuters

“International experts in the blockchain and crypto industry will gather for the first time in Pyongyang to share their knowledge and vision, establish connections and discuss business opportunities,” a website promoting the event states.

The conference is not open to citizens of Israel, Japan or South Korea, while journalists are also not allowed to attend. A note on the website also warns: “Any mass printed propaganda or digital/printed material against the dignity of the Republic is not allowed.”

In a FAQ section of the website, organisers address any safety concerns potential attendees may have.

“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) can be considered the safest country in the world,” it states.

“As long as you have a basic common-sense and respect for the culture and belief of other nations, you’ll be always welcome and enjoy like thousands of friends we’ve been hosting for the past 28 years and engaged in cultural, sports, science or business relations.”

Listed as one of the event’s organisers is Chris Emms, a cryptocurrency expert who has previously advised businesses on blockchain technology and regulatory requirements in the space.

His LinkedIn profile also mentions that he is serving as an expert witness for the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain.

North Korea is holding an international cryptocurrency and blockchain conference

A promotional picture for the Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference, set to take place in April 2019 (DPRK)

North Korea’s interest in cryptocurrency has been rumoured for several years, with two Washington-based experts claiming earlier this year that the regime is looking to the decentralised technology in order to bypass crippling sanctions imposed by the US.

Pyongyang University of Science and Technology has reportedly invited cryptocurrency experts to lecture students in the past.

“Our teaching is intended to assist the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] by building capacity that enables effective development and benefits for the people of the DPRK,” a spokesperson for the university told US-based North Korean news site NK News in 2017.

“We are acutely aware of sanctions issues and the risks of misuse or misappropriation of resources and know-how and take care to avoid any sensitive or proscribed areas.”

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