Washington will be taking into account North Korea's hacking activities when shaping its policy towards the regime, following an announcement by the Justice Department bringing charges against three North Koreans for their suspected role in major cyber attacks.
The State Department said that its main concern is Pyeongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, but the regime's "malicious cyber activity" is to be considered as well.
"So our review of our policy to North Korea will take into account the totality of the malign activity and the threats that are emanating from North Korea."
The U.S. Justice Department revealed Wednesday that it has charged three North Korean hackers on several charges, including the attempted theft of more than 1.3 billion U.S. dollars worth of cash and cryptocurrency from banks and businesses.
They identified all three of them, Jon Chang-hyok, Kim Il and Park Jin-hyok, as members of North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau.
The latest charges build on an earlier charge from 2018.
Officials see the regime as trying to raise funds through illegal cyber activities, due to the weakness of its economy and the sanctions it's under.
"Simply put, the regime has become a criminal syndicate with a flag which harnesses its state resources to steal hundreds of millions of dollars."
The indictment includes the cyberattack on Sony Pictures in 2014 in retaliation for a Hollywood movie which depicted a fictionalized assassination of their leader, Kim Jong-un.
None of the three accused North Koreans is in American custody, but U.S. officials see the indictments worthwhile even in absentia, to send a message that they can be identified and implicated in crimes.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.