US sanctions three North Korean officials

The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday sanctioned three senior North Korean officials for alleged human rights abuses.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control designated North Korean state security minister Jong Kyong Thaek, ideological watchdog Choe Ryong Hae and propaganda director Pak Kwang Ho under 2016 financial sanctions penalizing Kim Jong Un's regime.

The three officials are now banned from the U.S. financial system and can no longer access assets under U.S. jurisdiction. American citizens and residents are prohibited from any transactions with them.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLouise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg Mnuchin: US 'focused' on reaching trade deal with UK by end of year Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  MORE said in a statement that the North Korean officials “direct departments that perpetrate the regime’s brutal state-sponsored censorship activities, human rights violations and abuses, and other abuses in order to suppress and control the population.”

The sanctions are the latest effort by the Trump administration to ramp up pressure on Kim to strike a nuclear disarmament pact with the U.S. and South Korea. Trump and Kim held a June summit in Singapore to hammer out potential terms of a deal, but have grown further apart as North Korea continues work on missile testing.

The North Korean officials sanctioned on Monday were penalized under a 2016 U.S. law targeting Kim's government and its political leaders. The officials are members of several North Korean government and political departments that were listed under separate 2016 sanctions focused on human rights abuses.

Jong is accused by the U.S. of “directing the censorship activities and abuses perpetrated” by the North Korean Ministry of State Security, which was targeted by the U.S. for human rights violations.

As director of the Organization and Guidance Department, Choe is responsible for keeping North Koreans in step with the Kim’s messaging and oversees “organizations undergoing party audits to inspect for ideological discipline,” the Treasury Department said.

Pak, director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, is accused of “maintaining ideological purity” among members of the ruling Workers Party of Korea and indoctrinating those who fail to toe the line, according to the Treasury Department.

“The United States has consistently condemned the North Korean regime for its flagrant and egregious abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and this Administration will continue to take action against human rights abusers around the globe,” Mnuchin said in a statement.