Unfortunately for the people of North Korea, the sanctions are largely symbolic and will probably do nothing to stop Kim Jong Un from engaging in the type of barbaric behavior that has made him infamous.
The totalitarian state has conducted multiple missile tests, a nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February, drawing the ire of the global community.
USA officials briefing reporters on the new actions say they expected the sanctions to have "a worldwide ripple effect" making it harder for those on the list to do business with global financial institutions.
The U.N. General Assembly urged the U.N. Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court after a 2014 U.N. Commission of Inquiry detailed wide-ranging rights violations in the country. Kim Jong Un, the third generation of his family to rule the Stalinist state, topped the list.
For the first time, the U.S. has moved to impose a sanction on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the countless accounts of torture, assault and execution of his people. Numerous abuses happen in North Korea's political prisoner camps, which hold between 80,000 and 120,000 prisoners including children, the reportsaid.
Sanctioning Kim Jong-un and others will not only have a direct financial impact on the North Korean regime but could also have powerful secondary reverberations.
The sanctions also target three senior officials within the North's Ministry of State Security, which runs the country's political prison camps. North Korean officials have repeatedly denied running labor camps or political prisons.
"The U.S. should immediately and unconditionally retract the recent step for sanctions which dared hurt the dignity of the DPRK supreme leadership", the North said. If Washington and Seoul implement these demands, North Korea "will take reciprocal measures promoting denuclearization of this region", as follows from the statement.
But senior officials said that naming those directly involved could make them think twice about what they are doing.
According to a statement by the US Treasury Department, 10 other individuals and five government ministries and departments were also sanctioned.
Kim now joins the company of other authoritarian leaders who have been judged responsible under USA sanctions law for horrific conditions in their countries.
On Wednesday (local time), the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted 23 officials and entities, including Kim, for their roles in the North's human rights abuses. Among now serving leaders, they include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.
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