US slaps sanctions on Kim Jong-un for 'notorious' human rights abuses

The State Department's report constituted the most comprehensive effort by any government to identify the individuals responsible for ongoing abuses, like torture, rape, enslavement and extermination.
July 6, 2016, 9:15pm
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Pyongyang Terrapin Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 6, 2016. (KCNA/via REUTERS)

For the first time, the United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for "notorious abuses of human rights."

In its report, the US State Department compiled a list of names of those believed to be most responsible for serious human rights abuses and censorship in North Korea. Number one on the list was the country's Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un.

The report said most of the abuses happen in North Korea's notorious political prisoners camps, which hold between 80,000 to 120,000 detainees, including kids.

This is nothing new. International and Korean human rights watchdogs have been raising these concerns for years. In 2014, a UN Commission of Inquiry concluded that the abuses in North Korea were unparalleled anywhere else in the world — torture, rape, enslavement, extermination, and forced abortions, among other violence.

What's different about the US State Department's report is that it's the most comprehensive effort of any government to identify the individuals most responsible for the litany of abuses reported in North Korea. US officials say they used testimony from North Korean defectors, who provided details about the conditions in the camps and executions, and had help from both Korean and international rights organizations. Ten other North Korean officials made the blacklist.

Related: Nukes, Millennials, and the Wizard of Oz: What to expect at North Korea's first party Congress in 36 years

Diplomats have warned that the sanctions could further inflame the volatile Supreme Leader of the Pariah State. US officials said that the sanctions were more of a "symbolic" move that didn't pack any real punch — hoping Pyongyang officials might "think twice" before orchestrating abuses in the future.

The report also clarified a long-standing mystery surrounding Kim Jong-un's age and birthday. He was born on January 8, 1984 – making him 32 years old

Stunning to see Kim Jong Un's name, and secretive birthdate, on latest — Jean H. Lee (@newsjean)July 6, 2016

Reuters contributed to this report