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(2nd LD) N. Korea attempted to steal COVID-19 vaccine, treatment technology: NIS

All News 22:00 February 16, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more lawmakers' comments in paras 3, 8)

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.

Ha claimed that Pfizer is believed to have been attacked by the North, citing documents provided by the NIS and other sources that he declined to specify.

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.

The lawmakers also quoted the NIS as saying that North Korea has changed leader Kim's official title in English to "president" from "chairman."

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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