South Korea investigating North Korean man who crossed armed border

Marco Green
February 17, 2021

North Korean hackers stole technology related to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments from USA drugmaker Pfizer, according to a South Korean lawmaker.

South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers Tuesday Ri may have been taking care of the couple's children and avoiding public exposure during the coronavirus pandemic, Kim Byung-kee, a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker, said after a meeting of a parliamentary intelligence committee.

This comes after Microsoft revealed in November that North Korean and Russian hackers had targeted "seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19", including pharmaceutical companies.

North Korea has not confirmed any Covid-19 cases, but the NIS has said an outbreak could not be ruled out as the country had active exchanges with China, where the virus first emerged, before closing the border early a year ago. He said the lawmakers were required to return the documents at the end of the briefing. It reportedly wasn't clear whether the attempt was successful. Ha suggested the NIS was likely trying not to anger North Korea too much.

The U.S. State Department and Pfizer did not immediately respond to emails from Fox News.

The man, intercepted at 7:20 South Korean troops inside the civilian control line just south of the Demilitarized Zone, apparently swam some part of the way from North Korea in a dive suit before passing through a drain south of the border, according to a translated, text-message update from the joint chiefs Wednesday.

North Korea has also been linked to significant cyberattacks, which the country denies.

Although the country has not yet confirmed any cases of coronavirus, North Korea is due to receive around 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine this year through the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme.

Health experts have said the North's hackers may be more interested in selling the stolen data than using it to develop a homegrown vaccine.

The current South Korean government of President Moon Jae-in espouses rapprochement with North Korea and a negotiated settlement of the global standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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