What's a dictator to do when his third-world economy is wheezing along on its last legs? Hack some video games, of course! According to a report in the New York Times
, North Korea's Kim Jong-il unleashed an army of young computer crackers on popular South Korean online gaming portals to find ways to make quick cash.
South Korean authorities claim that a squad of approximately 30 hackers operated from a base in China and were given the mission of breaching online gaming servers (including those of the immensely popular Lineage
) to set up bot factories and automated farming collectives. The digital booty was then sold to gamers for a reported $6 million over two years.
Chung Kil-hwan, a senior officer at South Korea's International Crime Investigation Unit, says that the hacker group "reports to a shadowy Communist Party agency called Office 39, which gathers foreign hard currency for Mr. Kim through drug trafficking, counterfeiting, arms sales, and other illicit activities."