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Bitcoin has arrived in North Korea

By James Cook

Forget all the talk of executions, prison camps and nuclear missiles. North Korea has finally entered the world stage with its very first Bitcoin transaction.

Thanks to a well-intentioned traveller who flew to North Korea with Dennis Rodman and his crew of ex-NBA stars, North Korean citizens finally have access to the cryptocurrency that has eluded them for so long.

Reddit user “BitcoinDPRK” posted on the site this morning about his North Korean Bitcoin adventures, detailing how he sent the first overseas Bitcoin transaction to a fellow Reddit user.

The anonymous American Bitcoin fan used North Korea’s expensive internet access option for foreigners to log onto Reddit and send over the virtual currency. At $200 for every 50MB of internet, it’s a pricey way of sending currency overseas.

However, BitcoinDPRK hasn’t just stopped at sending cryptocurrency back home, he has also given out Bitcoins to the people he has met in North Korea. Paper Bitcoin wallets have been handed out to North Korean tour guides.

The trouble? They can’t do anything with them.

With no internet access available to North Korean citizens, the only way to use Bitcoin is if any shops in the country accept it.

The Kernel contacted a representative of the North Korean government to ask whether there were any plans for Bitcoins to be accepted as usable currency. The response came as follows: “No, the Bitcoin is not used in the DPRK and not accepted there.”

So until Kim Jong-Un decides to embrace the exciting world of cryptocurrency, it seems that North Korea’s Bitcoins will remain utterly useless.