Japan and South Korea announced on Friday (2 December) that they would impose their own unilateral sanctions on North Korea. It has come after the nuclear-armed nation warned of retaliation against the UN Security Council's sanctions this week over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
The reclusive country refused to accept the UN's economic sanctions saying it was a plot by the US to challenge Pyongyang's sovereignty. The sanctions will reduce the North's annual export revenue by 25% and the decision to impose tougher sanctions were taken after Kim Jong-un's regime conducted its fifth and largest nuclear test in September.
South Korea said it has compiled a comprehensive list against the North, which would blacklist dozens of high-profile North Korean officials, including Kim's closest aides, Choe Ryong Hae and Hwang Pyong So.
According to Reuters, Hwang is already on a US treasury sanctions list and was once believed to have been Pyongyang's second-most powerful official who is not part of the Kim clan.
Besides, Seoul said it would ban the entry of foreign missile and nuclear experts from the country to the North if their visit was considered a potential threat to the South's national interests.
The South also announced sanctions against a Chinese company for its alleged involvement with a North Korean bank that is already under UN sanctions. Earlier this year, the US Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against the same company.
Siding with the South, Japan too came up with its own list of sanctions that include banning all ships that have docked at North Korean ports before entering Japanese shores. It is also reportedly renewing efforts to bring home all its nationals who were abducted by Pyongyang.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: "It is a new phase of threat that North Korea forced, carrying out nuclear tests twice this year and launching more than 20 missiles, and it is enhancing capability. Japan absolutely cannot tolerate these acts of violence. Japan will consider measures depending on moves by North Korea and the international society."
In addition, Suga said Japan will freeze the assets of North Korean entities and individuals who are found to have links with Kim's nuclear ambitions. Japan's fresh sanctions also expand to a list of people who it says will be barred from entering the country if they visit North Korea.
These individual list of sanctions are said to be in addition to the already imposed US-drafted UN resolution, which was aimed at slashing the North's coal exports. It also bans export of nickel, copper, silver and zinc, as well as sale of statues. The isolated country is said to be famous for building large, socialist-style statues and exports it predominantly to African countries.
The US is also likely to come up with its own sanctions against Kim's nation.