Kim Jong Un North Korea Leader life_00000406.jpg
KCTV
Kim Jong Un North Korea Leader life_00000406.jpg
Now playing
01:57
Who is Kim Jong Un?
Nicolas Asfouri/Pool/Getty Images/AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS
Now playing
01:27
North, South Korean leaders to meet again
Airbus Defense and Space
Now playing
01:44
New images show N. Korea dismantling test site
CNNI
Now playing
00:40
Pompeo dismisses N. Korea's 'gangster' comments
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear program. (Photo by Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout/Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear program. (Photo by Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:56
Kim Jong Un snubbed Mike Pompeo, source says
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:34
Bolton: US has plan for denuclearizing N. Korea
Planet Labs Inc.
Now playing
01:25
Satellite images show missile plant construction
CNN
Now playing
01:14
Susan Rice: Kim Jong Un beat Trump at summit
Images of the Norrth Korea missile launch on November 28 taken from Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official newspaper.
From Rodong Sinmun
Images of the Norrth Korea missile launch on November 28 taken from Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official newspaper.
Now playing
02:14
Will North Korea restart nuclear tests?
Photo Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:00
Will Kim Jong Un ever give up his nukes?
Photo Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
02:27
What's bringing Kim Jong Un to the table
Now playing
01:51
Who is Kim Jong Un?
CNN
Now playing
01:43
Connolly: Trump comment on Kim 'jaw-dropping'
Now playing
02:31
Moon: The masterful dealmaker
Trump Kim Jong Un comment 04240218
CNN
Trump Kim Jong Un comment 04240218
Now playing
01:26
Trump: Kim Jong Un very open and honorable
Now playing
03:06
Finding art on the edge of the DMZ

Story highlights

Sanctions over human rights abuses spur North Korean move

The U.N. mission in New York was the main communication conduit

CNN —  

North Korea said Monday it has decided to close its only direct diplomatic link with Washington, a move made days after the United States slapped sanctions on the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and other officials over human rights abuses.

Pyongyang and Washington do not have formal diplomatic relations, but North Korea’s mission to the United Nations in New York has acted as the main communication conduit between the two countries.

Now it will deal with “DPRK-US relations under the wartime law of the DPRK,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea’s state-run news agency.

The U.S. sanctions announced last week marked the first time Washington sanctioned Kim personally. Administration officials said Kim was “ultimately responsible” for what they called “North Korea’s notorious abuses of human rights.”

Pyongyang is already subject to heavy U.S. sanctions for its past nuclear and missile activity. But Wednesday’s action marked the first time regime officials had been sanctioned for human rights abuses

“The DPRK government sent the U.S. government a message on July 10 through the DPRK permanent mission to the UN in connection with the fact that the U.S. recently impaired the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK by releasing what they call ‘report on human rights,’ and ‘lists of targets of special sanctions’ related to the DPRK,” the KCNA reported.

North Korea said it would take “practical actions” against the United States since it “refused to comply” with a demand that the sanctions measure be withdrawn, the KCNA reported Monday. The first phase of “stage by stage” actions would be cutting off the New York contact channel, the report said.

“The DPRK government informed the U.S. government of its principled stand that from now on it would deal with all the issues arising in the DPRK-U.S. relations under the wartime law of the DPRK and the issue of detained Americans is no exception,” the article said. “The U.S. is wholly to blame for the ensuing unpleasant things happening in the bilateral times.”

North Korea this year has sentenced an American student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, to 15 years of hard labor after accusing him of removing a political banner from a hotel. It also sentenced a South Korean-born American citizen, Kim Dong Chul, to 10 years of hard labor for subversion and espionage.

’Intolerable cruelty’

The United States’ new measures were taken in conjunction with the State Department’s issuance of a report entitled “Serious Human Rights Abuses or Censorship in North Korea,” which was mandated by the U.S. Congress under the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, passed earlier this year.

A day after the U.S. announcement, North Korea lashed out, calling the move an “open declaration of war against DPRK” and “the worst crime that can never be pardoned,” according to KCNA.

The Treasury Department’s Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin said in a statement last week that “under Kim Jong Un, North Korea continues to inflict intolerable cruelty and hardship on millions of its own people, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, and torture.”

“Any property or interest in property of those designated by (Office of Foreign Assets Control) within U.S. jurisdiction is frozen,” the Treasury Department said. “Additionally, transactions by U.S. persons involving the designated persons are generally prohibited.”

The U.S. sanctions also extend to five North Korean state entities, including the Ministry of People’s Security, which the Obama administration says oversees labor camps and other detention facilities, where torture, execution, rape, starvation and forced labor takes place. Choe Pu Il, the minister of People’s Security, was also named to the list, along with several top officials in the agency.

CNN’s Elise Labott and Ryan Browne contributed to this report