World Bulletin / News Desk
Pyongyang’s foreign ministry described the move as “the worst hostility and an open declaration of war”.
The North has been very sensitive to efforts by the United Nations General Assembly to refer its regime to the International Criminal Court -- evidence presented to the UN in 2014 exposed widespread human rights abuses in the authoritarian state, such as the political imprisonment of more than 100,000 people.
In line with Washington’s decision this week, Kim and several other leading officials have been barred from business and travel in America.
“[North Korea] will take the toughest countermeasures to resolutely shatter the hostility of the U.S. as regards the fact that the latter's hostile policy has reached the worst phase of hurting the dignity of the former's supreme leadership,” the North’s ministry warned in a statement carried by official news agency KCNA.
Pyongyang also threatened to cut off all diplomatic contact unless Washington retracts what it referred to as the “worst crime that can never be pardoned”.
Having praised the U.S. a day earlier, Seoul stood by its ally again Friday.
“North Korea should immediately stop its human rights abuses and improve its rights record by taking the international community's will to seek accountability,” a unification ministry spokesperson was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying at a press conference.
The North is already feeling the weight of multiple UN resolutions related to its development of nuclear weapons, including a strengthened package of sanctions imposed in March.
Pyongyang regularly blames the U.S. for regional tensions -- nearly 30,000 American military personnel remain in South Korea decades after the Korean War halted with a 1953 ceasefire.