Treasury sanctions top North Korean officials

Treasury sanctions top North Korean officials
© Getty Images

The Treasury Department targeted seven North Korean government officials and two government agencies Wednesday afternoon, escalating the U.S. response to the Asian nation's missile testing and threats.

Americans are banned from financial transactions with the officials and agencies, sanctioned by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The department will also freeze the U.S.-based assets of the sanctioned officials and parties.

The sanctioned officials include government and party leaders in charge of national security, labor camps, propaganda, censorship and “maintaining ideological purity,” according to OFAC.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The North Korean regime not only engages in severe human rights abuses, but it also implements rigid censorship policies and conceals its inhumane and oppressive behavior,” said John E. Smith, acting OFAC director, in the statement.  “Today’s action exposes individuals supporting the North Korean regime and underscores the U.S. Government’s commitment to promoting accountability for serious human rights abuses and censorship in North Korea.”

Kim Won Hong, North Korean minister of state security, is among those sanctioned Wednesday. OFAC said his ministry conducts torture at labor camps, including “beatings, forced starvation, sexual assault, forced abortions, and infanticide.”

Other sanctioned officials include Kim Il-Nam, who runs a labor camp; Kim Yo Jong, who helps oversee propaganda and media censorship; Kang P’il-Hun, who manages “a network of police stations, interrogation and detention centers, and labor camps;” and Min Byong Chol, reportedly known as the “angel of death” for a record of political purges, according to OFAC.

OFAC also sanctioned North Korea's State Planning Commission and Ministry of Labor.
 
The Obama administration has bolstered sanctions against North Korea after a series of provocative statements and missile tests orchestrated by Kim Jong Un.