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(LEAD) N. Korea attempted to steal COVID-19 vaccine, treatment technology: NIS

North Korea 20:50 February 16, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details throughout, photo)

SEOUL, Feb. 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has attempted to hack into South Korean drug manufacturers' computer systems to obtain information related to coronavirus vaccines and treatment, the state intelligence agency told lawmakers Tuesday.

At a closed-door parliamentary session, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) reported the average daily number of cyberattacks in South Korea has increased 32 percent year-on-year to about 1.58 million cases, most of which were unsuccessful, Rep. Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party told reporters after the session.

The NIS also said that North Korea has enhanced its crackdown on anti-socialist acts, upping the punishment for distributing video materials from South Korea to the death penalty, according to lawmakers.

Anyone caught watching South Korean videos is punishable by a jail term of up to 15 years, the NIS said.

"To put it simply, it's punishment for the 'Korean Wave,'" Ha said.

On the public absence of leader Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, the NIS said that no unusual signs or intelligence have been collected.

National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won speaks during a session of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee on Feb. 16, 2021. (Yonhap)


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