We all knew that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was a little… out there. But in a truly bizarre story being reported on NY Times, we can catch a glimpse of just how eccentric he is: he has set up a team of “hackers” with the explicit goal of raising money by gold farming in Asian MMOs and selling it for real-life cash to players.
According to South Korean officials, Kim Jong-il’s hacker squad boasts members from both North and South Korea which work with Northern Chinese operatives. The entire plot was uncovered when four of these operatives were arrested in Seoul last week.
The entire story sounds absolutely ridiculous. How much money can a group possibly earn through gold farming? Well, try six million dollars. That’s how much officials estimate the hacker group has raised over the last two years.
The hackers are believed to report to a group called Office 39, a Communist Party organization. In addition to gold farming, Office 39 also raises money for the North Korean dictator through arms sales and drug trafficking. The money generated is used for a number of projects, including, according to American and South Korean officials, a nuclear weapons program.
While the entire scenario seems almost silly, it is an important reminder that the gold farming and item-selling black market for online games has a very dark underside and carries real-world consequences that many are unaware of.
Some companies are taking steps to counteract the increasingly sinister world of online game item sales. Blizzard’s planned real-money auction house in the upcoming RPG Diablo III represents an effort to promote legitimate player-to-player transactions and remove the need to turn to shady organizations with potential criminal connections.
So the next time you argue that Blizzard is ruining Diablo III, keep in mind that you’re supporting communism. And, by extension, you hate America.