North Korea has condemned sanctions implemented by the US in response to the autocracy’s alleged role in the hack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Ten officials and three bodies affiliated with the North Korean government and the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea are now blocked from doing business with American citizens and US financial groups, despite North Korea repeatedly denying responsibility for the hack.
A North Korean spokesman was cited by The Guardian as saying: "The policy persistently pursued by the US to stifle the DPRK [North Korea], groundlessly stirring up bad blood towards it, will only harden its will and resolution to defend the sovereignty of the country."
Among those sanctioned is the Reconnaissance General Bureau, a reported intelligence agency, the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, reportedly involved in arms dealing, and the Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, which obtains commodities in connection with the country’s military research.
Many of the individuals named in the order are involved in diplomatic work on behalf of North Korea, and include representatives in Iran, Russia, Syria and China – all countries with tense relations with the US.
Jacob Lew, secretary of the US Treasury, said on Friday: "Today’s actions are driven by our commitment to hold North Korea accountable for its destructive and destabilising conduct."
"Even as the FBI continues its investigation into the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, these steps underscore that we will employ a broad set of tools to defend U.S. businesses and citizens, and to respond to attempts to undermine our values or threaten the national security of the United States."
The attack on Sony’s movie division led to the leaking of five films to the internet among a raft of data, including internal emails criticising actors that had worked with the studio and 47,000 social security numbers belonging to employees.
Though the FBI and the White House have pinned the hack on North Korea, many cybersecurity experts have suggested the hackers, who go by the name Guardians of Peace, may have left a misleading trail of clues pointing to the country.