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U.S. sanctions on North Korea target officials close to Kim Jong Un

The U.S. sanctions have blacklisted 11 North Korean officials.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 3, 2016 at 1:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution is targeting North Korea's financial lifelines, but recently adopted U.S. sanctions are hitting key North Korea decision makers.

The U.S. sanctions have blacklisted 11 North Korean officials, and chief among them is Hwang Pyong So of the Korean People's Army, Pyongyang's second most powerful official, South Korean news service News 1 reported.

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Hwang was notably absent from military training events in February, prompting speculation in Seoul of a possible purge. Since then he has reappeared in public, attending an anti-tank guided weapon test with Kim Jong Un in late February.

Other blacklisted individuals include Pak Yong Sik, the North's defense minister, O Kuk Ryol and Ri Yong Mu of the National Defense Commission, South Korean television network SBS reported.

Missing from the U.S. sanctions list was Korean Workers' Party Secretary Kim Yong Chol, who has previously been connected to numerous provocations, including the 2010 sinking of the South Korean ship Cheonan, the 2011 hacking of a South Korean agricultural cooperative bank and the land mine provocation last August.

Any trade with these individuals for U.S. citizens is banned, and any U.S. assets belonging to them are to be frozen, according to Washington.

Hwang has often been visible at the forefront of inter-Korea relations. The top official was in attendance at the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, and was one of two negotiators with the South in August, when exploded land mines raised tensions at the border.

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