According to South Korean authorities, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is currently funded in part by sales of virtual game currency.
As reported by the New York Times
[registration required], North Korea has organized a specialized group to generate and sell virtual goods from popular MMOs.
These hackers allegedly devised software to automatically play popular MMOs such as Lineage
and Dungeon and Fighter
(known in the U.S. simply as Dungeon Fighter
). The group then sold this software so players can easily obtain gold and other virtual items for their online avatars, reports the Financial Times
According to South Korean police, the organizers of the operation have accumulated over $6 million, and the NY Times reports that each member of the group was required to send $500 per month to the Pyongyang government.
The NY Times reports that other evidence also links the group to a Communist Party agency known as Office 39, which collects money for the North Korean government via drug trafficking, counterfeiting, arms sales, and other illicit activities.
Seoul police have arrested five individuals believed to be involved selling the automation software. The North Korean government has denied responsibility and claims Seoul is inventing a conspiracy.