North Korea is calling US sanctions on Kim Jong Un a 'declaration of war'

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US sanctions North Korea's Kim Jong Un for 'abuses of human rights'

On Wednesday, the US for the first time sanctioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for "notorious abuses of human rights," a decision that prompted the hermit kingdom to call the sanctions a "declaration of war."

The sanctions affect 10 other individuals besides the North Korean leader, five government ministries and departments, and property within US jurisdiction, according to the US Treasury Department statement.

SEE ALSO: US sanctions North Korean leader for first time over human rights
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"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," Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence said in a statement.

RELATED: 15 facts about the North Korea leader

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15 facts about Kim Jong Un
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15 facts about Kim Jong Un

1) Kim Jong Un was born on January 8 -- 1982, 1983, or 1984.

His parents were future North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and his consort, Ko Young Hee. He had an older brother named Kim Jong Chul and would later have a younger sister named Kim Yo Jong.

(Photo: DPRK propaganda via http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/NG14Dg02.html)

2) Jong Un -- here with his mother -- lived at home as a child.

During this period, North Korea was ruled by "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung. While Jong Il was the heir apparent, Jong Un's path to command was far less certain.

(DPRK propaganda via http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/NG14Dg02.html)

3) Then it was off to Switzerland to attend boarding school.

Called "Pak Un" and described as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy, Jong Un is thought to have attended an English-language international school in Gümligen near Bern.

4) Jong Un loved basketball and idolized Michael Jordan.

The young Korean reportedly had posters of Jordan all over his walls during his Swiss school days. Although Jong Un was overweight and only 5-6, he was a decent basketball player.

(Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

5) After school in Switzerland, he returned home for military schooling.

Upon his return to North Korea, Jong Un attended Kim Il Sung Military University with his older brother. Some reports say they started to attend their father's military field inspections around 2007.

(Photo by Liu Xingzhe/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

6) Jong Un has a theme song known as "Footsteps."

"Footsteps" looks and sounds like a propaganda song from the Soviet Union.

7) Many North Koreans see Jong Un as a youthful version of "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung.

Kim bears a clear resemblance to his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in appearance, haircut, and mannerisms.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

8) After his father died, Jong Un was quickly declared "Supreme Leader" of North Korea.

When Jong Il died of a heart attack on December 17, 2011, the young Jong Un inherited the world's fourth-largest military, a nuclear arsenal, and absolute control over North Korea.

(AP Photo/NHK)

9) Some originally believed that Jong Un's aunt and uncle were actually calling the shots.

Among Jong Un's most trusted advisers were his aunt Kim Kyong Hui and her husband, Jang Sung Taek, both 66. The couple was reportedly ordered by Jong Il to control the country's military and help the young leader consolidate his position while he gains more experience.

(AP Photo/Kyodo News)

10) But at the end of December 2013, Jong Un had his uncle and his uncle's family executed, apparently in a bid to stop a coup against his rule.

11) He's married to a former cheerleader and may have two kids.

North Korean media revealed in July that he was married to Ri Sol Ju -- a former cheerleader and singer -- but no one knows exactly when they were married, according to NBC News.

(AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service, File)

12) Jong Un lived out a childhood fantasy when former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman visited.

Everyone in the family is apparently a huge Chicago Bulls fans.

(Photo courtesy of VICE)

13) But recently, things haven't been going so well.

In 2013 he was reportedly the target of an assassination attempt. South Korean intelligence believes the young leader was targeted by "disgruntled people inside the North" after he demoted a four-star general, which resulted in a power struggle.

(Photo courtesy: DPRK)

14) Jong Un has continued to be belligerent with South Korea and the West throughout his rule in hopes of bolstering his authority.

North Korea has continued to test ballistic missiles and nuclear devices under Jong Un's rule, despite the threat of sanctions. In 2012, the country launched its first satellite into space. And since Jong Un has taken over, the country has continued to push ahead with its construction of ballistic and nuclear weapons.

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

15) Jong Un's belligerence reached a peak in 2016.

On January 5, North Korea conducted its fourth-ever nuclear test and its second under Jong Un. Pyongyang claims the test was a miniaturized hydrogen bomb.

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

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"Considering the sanctions name Kim Jong Un, the reaction from Pyongyang will be epic," Michael Madden an expert on North Korean leadership told Reuters. "There will be numerous official and state media denunciations, which will target the U.S. and Seoul, and the wording will be vituperative and blistering."

Here's some of the offenses outlined in the US Treasury Department statement:

The Ministry of State Security engages in torture and inhumane treatment of detainees during interrogation and in detention centers. This inhumane treatment includes beatings, forced starvation, sexual assault, forced abortions, and infanticide.

According to the State Department report, the ministry is the lead agency investigating political crimes and administering the country's network of political prison camps, which hold an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people, including children and other family members of the accused. In addition, the Ministry of State Security's Prisons Bureau is responsible for the management and control of political prisoners and their confinement facilities throughout North Korea.

The Ministry of People's Security operates a network of police stations and interrogation detention centers, including labor camps, throughout North Korea. During interrogations, suspects are systematically degraded, intimidated, and tortured.

The Ministry of People's Security's Correctional Bureau supervises labor camps (kyohwaso) and other detention facilities, where human rights abuses occur such as those involving torture, execution, rape, starvation, forced labor, and lack of medical care. The State Department report cites defectors who have regularly reported that the ministry uses torture and other forms of abuse to extract confessions, including techniques involving sexual violence, hanging individuals from the ceiling for extended periods of time, prolonged periods of exposure, and severe beatings.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry called on China to urge North Korea to cooperate on human rights standards.

"China's engagement is critical," Kerry said during a news conference while visiting Kiev. Kerry also added that the US is "ready and prepared" to return to discussions of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

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