The Federal government last week announced sanctions against three North Korean nationals over allegations that they are involved in the ongoing human rights abuses and censorship taking place in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
On Monday the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated DPRK Minister of State Security Jong Kyong Thaek and the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Director of the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) Choe Ryong Hae. Per OFAC, the two men are senior officials in departments already designated by OFAC, which also include the DPRK Ministry of State Security (MSS), the Ministry of Public Security, and the WPK Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD).
The designations are being conducted hand-in-hand with the U.S. State Department’s “Report on Serious Human Rights Abuses and Censorship in North Korea,” which is a periodic report dedicated to the continuing and deteriorating situation in the DPRK. OFAC also notes that the move is being done to honor the legacy of Otto Warmbier, whose 24th birthday would have occurred last week.
OFAC says Choe is the DPRK’s second in command, with significant power in the party, government, and military spheres. As director of the OGD, he oversees a department tasked with maintaining ideological discipline within the government, including sending representatives to oversee self-criticism sessions when government personnel stray from the official ideology.
Pak, in his capacity as Director of PAD, is responsible for insuring ideological purity as well, including overseeing government censorship activities. His organization allegedly maintains strict control over information disseminated within the country, and is one of several individuals contributing to the ongoing task of public indoctrination.
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