The U.S. Department of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK) will co-host a U.S.- ROK Joint Symposium: Stopping DPRK Sanctions Evasion in the Remote IT Work Industry in San Francisco, CA, on May 24, 2023, as part of our ongoing efforts to both curb the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) attempts to earn revenue for its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile programs in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) and to raise awareness of DPRK workers’ rights.
DPRK IT workers take advantage of the demand for specific IT skills, such as software mobile app and decentralized finance platform development, to obtain freelance employment contracts from clients around the world, including in North America, Europe, and East Asia. DPRK remote IT workers have also used the privileged access gained through these positions to enable malicious cyber operations.
Like other DPRK workers employed in third countries, DPRK remote IT workers may be subjected to forced labor and constant and close surveillance by government security agents. IT workers have also been forced to work 12-16 hours per day, which may be an indicator of forced labor and an abuse of their human rights.
Government officials and private sector experts from freelance work platforms, payment processors, IT staffing firms, social media companies, and other industry stakeholders, representing more than a dozen countries, are expected to attend this symposium.
During the symposium, industry leaders and experts from the U.S. and ROK governments will provide insights into the threat posed by DPRK IT worker activities, real world case studies of DPRK workers fraudulently accessing IT staffing platforms, and guidance to protect business and national security interests from this ongoing tactic of DPRK sanctions evasion.