In a renewed stand-off, President Obama signed an executive order this week, imposing sanctions on North Korea after Washington accused Pyongyang of orchestrating a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The U.S. government maintains Kim Jong Un’s government was behind a sophisticated cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and subsequent threats to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States if the motion picture company would release its new film “The Interview” about the North Korea leader.
Sony had first announced it would not premiere “The Interview” in response to threats, but after a nationwide discussion and repeated urges on part of the government officials, including President Barack Obama himself, decided to release the motion picture on YouTube and limited number of theaters. It was then made available ‘On Demand’ through many cable networks and even made it to various movie websites for free viewership.
The comedy starring Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg depicts Kim Jong Un as a manipulative, ruthless, yet weak leader who is ready to eliminate billions of people with a push of a button. The movie shows the real nature of the controlling dictatorial regime in North Korea and implicitly advocates for a revolution. Perhaps Kim Jong Un’s violent death by an American talk show host (Evan Goldberg) at the end of the movie is what made the North Korean leadership mad.
While issuing the executive order, President Obama accused North Korea of “destructive, coercive cyber-related actions during November and December,” stating that the regime remains a “continuing threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.”
Although some cyber security experts doubted North Korea was responsible for the cyber-attack, US government adamantly refused any other versions of the event, holding Kim Jong-Un’s government directly responsible.
The executive order authorizes the U.S. Treasury department to close access to the U.S. financial system prohibiting transactions and freezing assets for officials and entities of North Korea and their collaborators. Among the specific targets are three North Korean agencies and 10 individuals, including Pyongyang’s intelligence agency, and individuals identifies as working in Russia, China, Syria and Namibia.
The order follows a set of previous sanctions imposed in 2008, 2010 and 2011 for noncompliance of North Korea with UN resolutions related to the East Asian country’s nuclear activities.