Malaysian police have arrested Ri Jong-chol (46)
Rogue state North Korea's alleged use of an army of thousands of IT hackers to plunder e-commerce and run illegal online gambling and other websites in order to earn foreign exchange was again under the microscope this week as Malaysian police investigating the murder of Kim Jong-nam, brother of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, arrested Ri Jong-chol (46), a local IT man believed to have a shady online gambling history.
The South Korean newspaper Joongang Daily claimed that Ri Jong-chol managed illegal online gambling platforms for the North Korean regime, and was also involved in pornographic websites at the direction of the North Korean Workers' Party.
One of his rewards was permission to leave North Korea and reside in Malaysia, the report alleged, where he was employed by a herbal company in an IT capacity prior to his arrest on allegations of involvement in the assassination.
Joongang Daily quotes figures from the Korea Institute of Liberal Democracy, which claims that the maverick regime in North Korea collects as much as US$860 million annually from illegal hacking and online businesses, with a large percentage coming from online gambling.
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