It’s not easy to go to North Korea, one of the most reclusive and restrictive places in the world, but it’s also not impossible. For the blockchain conference, there was an application process, and then the forking over of €3,300, the bulk in cash upon arrival and €800 of it prepaid. The methods for prepayment: no credit cards, no easy remittances to the great Bank of North Korea, only a wire to some obscure financial institution in Estonia or a transfer of Ethereum’s Ether. I chose the latter because it’s less painful, and luckily for North Korea, Ether rose by as much as 50 percent in the following two months, resulting in a 50 percent profit from simply doing nothing. All of that perfectly shows the curious link between North Korea and cryptocurrency, which critics say threatens global stability, a connection built entirely on what that dictatorship is and its place in the world.

After paying the €800, I picked up my visa from the North Korean embassy in Beijing and had a Peking duck dinner with fellow attendees, none of whom I had met before.

The first thing one said to me was, “What made you decide to risk your life to go to North Korea?”

“Well, what about you?”

We all laughed.

“We all share a certain sort of crazy,” I said.


Part autobiography and part investigation, the book describes the wackiness, the fraudulence, and the cycle of Bitcoin boom and bust and boom. We begin with scandal and conflict in Canada’s cryptocurrency Wild West and spiral outward.


“Lou himself is a rare commodity in that he understands cryptocurrency and knows how to write about it … This book stands out as a rare example of a readable snapshot of a world we all need to get more informed about.” — The Times

“He delves into these questions using minimal technical jargon, grounding theory with anecdotes … Lou’s book will immediately capture readers' attention with its deep dive.” — Library Journal

“Roller-coaster ride … Readers interested in an in-the-trenches view of the Bitcoin world will appreciate Lou’s willingness to tell all.” — Publishers Weekly

Once a Bitcoin Miner offers a first-person account on one of the most fascinating periods in tech and finance … It's a highly entertaining read.” — Camila Russo, author of The Infinite Machine