In the latest wave of punitive measures on Thursday, the United States sanctioned two companies in China and Russia for their alleged role in facilitating the North's nuclear weapons program and for allegedly helping the North send workers abroad.
The sanctions freeze all property and interests of the designated entities and individuals in control of Americans or within the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Treasury said it's sanctioning China Silver Star, which it called "nominally a Chinese IT company, but in reality managed and controlled by North Koreans."
Also sanctioned, is the firm's CEO, Jong Song-hwa and its Russia-based front company, Volasys Silver Star.
The Treasury Department said China Silver Star is linked to the North Korean ruling party's Munitions Industry Department, which it says is responsible for overseeing the regime's ballistic missile program.
It's also said to be tied to the Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corporation, which is accused of procuring commodities and technologies in support of North Korea's defense research and development programs.
South Korea's foreign ministry says it sees the move as reflecting Washington's stance that sanctions must be enforced alongside dialogue in order to achieve the Peninsula's complete denuclearization.
Meanwhile, North Korea has denied responsibility for a cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014, for which Washington slapped sanctions on a North Korean person called "Pak Jin-hyok."
The regime's state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday put up commentary by a researcher at its foreign ministry who said that the hacker the U.S. sanctioned does not exist, and that North Korea had nothing to do with the crime.
It called the move a vicious slander and a smear campaign to justify America's policy of "maximum pressure," and warned that the U.S. should seriously consider over the negative consequences inciting antagonism could have on implementing the June 12th agreement.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.