U.S. Places Sanctions on Three Senior North Korean Officials

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. sanctioned three senior North Korean officials, including one described as the regime’s effective second in command.

The Treasury Department on Monday targeted for sanctions Choe Ryong Hae, director of the Organization and Guidance Department of the ruling Workers Party of Korea, described in a Treasury Department statement as the regime"s “Number Two” official “with control over the party, government and military.”

The Treasury also targeted Jong Kyong Thaek, the regime’s minister of state security, and Pak Kwang Ho, director of propaganda for the party.

The three were sanctioned under an executive order targeting officials of the North Korean government and of the ruling party. The move is largely symbolic in light of previous bans on commerce with Kim Jong Un’s regime, even as the U.S. seeks to negotiate an end to his nuclear weapons program.

“Treasury is sanctioning senior North Korean officials who 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,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “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.

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