The Donald Trump led administration has reportedly sanctioned three senior North Korean officials for state-sponsored censorship activities and alleged human rights violations and abuses. The list includes names of Choe Ryong Hae, an aide close to Kim who leads the Workers’ Party of Korea Organization and Guidance Department, Pak Kwang Ho, the head of the Propaganda and Agitation Department, and Jong Kyong Thaek, North Korea’s Minister of State Security.
The sanctions were announced as the U.S. State Department released a six-monthly report on North Korean abuses. It currently remains unclear if the decision to sanction the three men was related to U.S.-North Korean nuclear diplomacy, which has not made much progress since Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Singapore in June. The move would block the three from engaging in business with the U.S. or with U.S. citizens.
“Human rights abuses in North Korea remain among the worst in the world and include extrajudicial killings, forced labor, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in an official statement released alongside the report, according to Reuters.
Notably, after Trump-Kim summit in June, North Korea has released three American prisoners until now. Last month, Pyongyang announced it would deport another detained U.S. citizen.
Last week, National security adviser John Bolton said that President Donald Trump wants to hold a second summit with Kim Jong Un as his first meeting with the North Korean leader hasn’t resulted in much progress.
Bolton added that the US would press ahead with a second meeting shortly after the start of the new year, most possibly in January and February. Meanwhile, President Trump has said that he shares a good relationship with Kim and that three sites for their next summit are currently under consideration.