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Ethan Lou shares his experience of the crypto conference in North Korea

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When North Korea announced a crypto conference in 2018, Canadian journalist Ethan Lou took the opportunity to see what the country’s crypto scene was like. He had many surprises, including being introduced to a North Korean audience as a presenter.

According to Lou, he went there with eight other unsuspecting attendees who just wanted to attend the crypto conference. However, when the plane landed and the conference began, they found that they were being billed to the audience as foreign experts who had flown all the way to North Korea to teach them about crypto.

While Lou did not agree to present, he said most of the others chose to give impromptu presentations. However, the Canadian journalist felt that there was no significant exchange of information within the conference:

“There were only eight of us, but maybe 60 Koreans. They were basically the audience and we didn’t have any meaningful interaction with them.”

Among the other things that started the group is how one of them confiscated his laptop because it contained pictures of his girlfriend. The North Koreans classified the images as pornography and kept the laptop until they left.

The foreign crypto “experts” also stumbled upon some of the anticipated security measures. One had his laptop confiscated because it contained pictures of his girlfriend. The North Koreans classified the images as pornography and kept the laptop until they left.

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Lou also met Virgil Griffith, the only person who actually hosted the event. Griffith explained that Americans need their government’s permission to travel to North Korea. “Before Virgil went on this journey, he asked his government if he could go. The government told him no. He told us he decided to go anyway,” Lou mentioned.

While believing he was doing his country a favor, Griffith was eventually arrested and met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This led to a trial in which Griffith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.