Additional US sanctions against North Korea [updated]

The Trump administration announced new sanctions toward NK individuals.

These sanctions are including the powerful Choe Ryong-hae, considered as one of the right-hand man to leader Kim Jong-un.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Minister of State Security Jong Kyong-thaek and Pak Kwang-ho, director of the Workers Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD CC WPK).

As of now Choe Ryong Hae (born in 1950 – A biogram of Choe Ryong Hae is available there) is also a vice chairman of the Executive Policy Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party.

North Korea’s Ministry of State Security and the Propaganda and Agitation Department are agencies also previously blacklisted. Jong Kyong-thaek is the current Minister of State Security, and Pak Kwang-ho is supposed to be the director of the Workers Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department.

Pak Kwang Ho is born in late 40’s. He studied at the Kim Il Sung University. and at the Kim Il Sung Military University Pak Kwang Ho traveled several times to China and participated to inter Korean summits.

Jong Kyong-thaek  is born in the early 60’s. He studied at the Kim Il Sung Military University. Choe Pu Il, the former Ministry of State Security  is also sanctioned by the OFAC.

Pak Kwang Ho
Pak Kwang Ho

This report also identified three entities responsible for implementing strict censorship and restricting access to foreign media: cell 109, cell 118 and cell 114, which are divisions of the PAD CC WPK. US authorities conducted warrantless searches for unapproved foreign media, confiscated computers and external storage devices, and kidnapped defectors or foreign citizens who support human rights in North Korea.

“The report represents a continuation of U.S. government efforts to name those responsible for or associated with the worst aspects of the North Korean government’s repression,” said Robert Palladino, a deputy spokesman of the U.S. State Department, in a statement Monday, and is a part of Washington’s “continued efforts to promote accountability for North Korean officials.”

The latest report, submitted to Congress, is keeping with the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 passed by the Barack Obama administration. Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North Korean leader, were previously sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for human rights abuses.

North Korea has reacted sensitively to the international condemnation of its human rights conditions, especially in the United Nations. A South Korean Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday on the release of the U.S. State Department report and the new sanctions, “On the North Korean human rights issue, our government will join with the efforts of the international community to substantively improve the rights of the North Korean people.”

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