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North Korea was advertising military equipment for sale on Twitter and YouTube despite international sanctions against the regime, Motherboard reports.
Using an alleged Malaysian business known as Glocom, determined to be a North Korean front company by the United Nations, Pyongyang has attempted to sell a wide array of products including “radar systems, communications software, and military radio gear.”
Although the company was previously booted from YouTube in 2017, Glocom rebuilt its social media presence.
Shea Cotton, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told Motherboard’s Joseph Cox that the company’s continued social media presence suggests the regime has been able to establish a successful customer base.
“Most [Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea] fronts, when exposed, usually fold or at the very least shut down and move their operations to another country and re-open under a new name,” Cotton said. “This one hasn’t done that. We’ve seen them try to create this spin off brand called ‘FACOM’ and sell a few of their products under it but as you’ve seen their main brand is still thriving apparently.”
Glocom also runs accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, “although these appear to be much less active,” Cox notes.
After being alerted to North Korea’s activity, YouTube removed the account in question and released a statement reiterating its policies.
“YouTube complies with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws—including with respect to content created and uploaded by restricted entities,” YouTube said. “If we find that an account violates our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines, we disable it.”
Glocom’s Twitter account was also removed while Facebook is said to be investigating the issue.
The Glocom website alleges that the company was founded in 1996 and “consists of about 200 engineers, employees and managers.”
“Glocom makes sincere efforts at product services with education, transfer of technology, joint venture and collaboration for countries and organizations around the world that safeguard territorial integrity and struggle against aggression and war under the principle of independence, equality and mutual benefit meeting the customers’ requirements,” the website adds.
The front company is just one of many ways North Korea has attempted to skirt international sanctions tied to its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.
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Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.