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.
While North Korea has denied involvement, it has been linked to a slew of prominent cyberattacks in recent years, including a 2013 campaign that paralyzed the servers of South Korean financial institutions, the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures, and the WannaCry malware attack of 2017. North Korea says it has not had a single coronavirus infection, but the claim is doubted by the U.S., Japan and others.
Pfizer aims to make two billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine this year, according to the global news agency headquartered in Paris, France.
The companies, however, added that the hackers could not breach their systems.
Ha said the wording about Pfizer "was so clear that I didn't even ask about that verbally" during the briefing.
Last summer, the UK, USA and Canada all accused Russian Federation of attempting to hack organisations developing a working coronavirus vaccine.
Ri Sol Ju's appearance comes the same day South Korea 's intelligence service sought to play down rumours over her "disappearance".
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE later stated that documents pertaining to their vaccine development had been targeted in a cyberattack on the European Medicines Agency. The allegations come only a week after a confidential United Nations report seen by AFP said North Korea had stolen more than $300 million worth of cryptocurrencies through cyberattacks in recent months to support its weapons programmes. Financial institutions and exchanges were hacked to generate revenue for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development, the document said, with the vast majority of the proceeds coming from two thefts late previous year. North Korea showed off several new missiles at military parades in October and last month, when Kim pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal.