United States sanctions Kim Jong Un over human rights abuses

The United States stepped up efforts to isolate North Korea on Wednesday, imposing sanctions on leader Kim Jong Un and 10 other senior officials for human rights abuses.

"The government [of South Korea] appreciates and welcomes the USA decision to impose sanctions against those involved in human rights violations in North Korea".

Speaking to reporters on a visit to the Ukraine on Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry said North Korean officials at all levels needed to "consider the implications" of their actions.

As part of the sanctions, Washington has made a decision to freeze any property of the blacklisted officials that comes under the us jurisdiction and also prohibited transactions by USA nationals to any of the designated persons.

In March, both the UN Security Council and President Obama sanctioned the country in response to its nuclear and missile tests, but, as the Christian Science Monitor's Bamzi Banchiri reported in April, "North Korea has continued to be belligerent, underscoring various doubts that the sanctions wouldn't work".

The sanctions also target three senior officials within the North's Ministry of State Security, which runs the country's political prison camps.

Kirby acknowledged that Kim is unpredictable and could just as likely resist any pressure from these latest sanctions.

While officials say human rights issues are dealt separately, experts say imposing sanctions on Pyongyang over human rights abuses has also got to do with the regime's other violations, namely nuclear and missile threats.

It is a sign "there probably isn't much of a hope for a diplomatic resolution", said Zachary Goldman, a former policy adviser in the U.S. Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

As well as Kim Jong-Un, ten officials from North Korea's Ministry of State Security and Ministry of People's Security have also been blacklisted by the US.

Schoolchildren stand beside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he arrives to attend "We Are the Happiest in the World", a performance of schoolchildren to celebrate the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean Children's Union, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on June 8.

The Department of Treasury said that Kim was responsible for abuses in his role as head of the country's ministry of state security and ministry of people's security.

"The United States dared to challenge our highest authority, committing the most hostile that goes beyond a confrontation about the so-called issue of human rights", the statement said.

Inside North Korea, adulation for Kim is mandatory and he is considered infallible. But Wednesday's action marks the first time regime officials have been sanctioned for human rights abuses.

The sanctions imposed on Kim Jong-Un place a freeze any properties he may own in the U.S. and prevents him from doing business with U.S. citizens.

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