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North Korean Government Funded In Part By Gold Farming
North Korean Government Funded In Part By Gold Farming
August 8, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

August 8, 2011 | By Tom Curtis
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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 [registration required].

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.


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Comments


Alex Leighton
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So there you go, not only is buying gold cheating, but you're funding a secretive society who never ceases to make me chuckle.

Tommy Hanusa
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what I read was: gold farming is now among the illicit activities that support oppressive and exploitative regimes and rebel groups. (sign of the times!).



what I will see in mass media : video-games fund and train terrorism! Boo! the terrorism is out to get you! be scarred of the terrorisms!



I suppose this shouldn't be too surprising when it comes to things of value or even just perceived value. but I will be honest it did kinda take me by surprise. It makes me wonder if game companies will reevaluate how they handle the in game currency seeing that more organized institutions with possible criminal ties are taking advantage of their player base.



how do you truly regulate an in-game currency? other illicit trades such as drugs have outright failed under aggressive actions by the states. what really can you do short of selling the currency yourself?

Martain Chandler
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Well Blizzard will shortly be answering some these questions for us. - Which, in turn, will raise questions about Wall Streets participation in game design and the reach of opportunistic governments in game economies.



I cannot recommend the book "For the Win" enough. It touches on many of these issues.

sean lindskog
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We live in bizarro world.

What next?

Kim Jong-il proclaims, "I gankz infidel dudez in WoW with a pig-tailed gnome rouge named Fluffy."

Bart Stewart
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When Stalin crowed that the capitalists would sell their Communist enemies the rope with which they would be hanged, I don't think he ever expected the rope would be virtual.

Jonathan Murphy
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I had this argument many times with MMO players. A game should be fun, not a job. When it becomes a job, it requires checks and balances. Otherwise stuff like this will happen.


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