US President Barack Obama imposed fresh sanctions against North Korea, which it has accused of being directly involved in the Sony hacking cybercrime, targeting three state agencies and ten officials of the communist regime in what he said was the "first aspect of our response."
Obama signed the executive order on Friday from his vacation in Hawaii, imposing immediate sanctions on North Korea's spy agency Reconnaissance General Bureau, which it has claimed is behind "many of North Korea's major cyberoperations", and also on its defence research arm and arms dealer.
The ten North Korean officials that the US has put on its list include two senior representatives in Iran, a big buyer of North Korean military technology, and five representatives in Syria, Russia, China and Namibia.
Obama had earlier promised a 'proportional response' after the FBI categorically pointed at the Kim Jong-un regime's role in the hacking of Sony Pictures ahead of the release of its movie "The Interview", which parodies the Korean leader.
North Korea, on the other hand, had blamed the Obama administration of being behind the controversial film.
The sanctions would mean that US businesses and citizens will not engage with the blacklisted entities and that the latter will be barred from accessing the US financial system.
However, given that the US has had sanctions against the communist country for the last five decades, the new sanctions are only being seen as symbolic and are not expected to change much.
"It's not as if they travel a lot abroad to western Europe or the United States ... They don't have billions of dollars in western banks," Joel Wit of the U.S. Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Washington told Reuters.
Despite international sanctions over its nuclear programme, North Korea has enhanced its nuclear capabilities over the years.