WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration ended 10 months of diplomatic thaw with North Korea on Wednesday when it imposed sanctions against the Communist regime to dramatize U.S. outrage over the terrorist bombing of a South Korean airliner in November.
State Department spokesman Charles Redman announced the steps, which are largely symbolic. He said that the United States and South Korea are discussing other measures that could be imposed to "register our common outrage at this act of mass murder."
Redman said that Secretary of State George P. Shultz withdrew the authorization he issued last March that had allowed U.S. diplomats to conduct substantive discussions with North Korean diplomats at social events and other "neutral settings."
The order returned Washington-Pyongyang relations to the deep freeze that began with the Korean War of 1950-53. U.S. diplomats again are under orders to rebuff any efforts by North Korean diplomats to discuss matters of substance.
Added to Terrorism List
In addition, Redman said, the U.S. government added North Korea to its list of nations--Libya, Iran, Syria, South Yemen and Cuba--that it says sponsor international terrorism. Nations on the list are not allowed to import goods from the United States.
Redman said that the U.S. government will also "tighten its already strict visa regime on North Korean passport holders."
The latter are largely symbolic gestures because the United States has almost no trade with North Korea and because holders of North Korean passports are almost never given visas to visit the United States.
"However, the designation (on the export ban list) is an important symbolic act, for it emphasizes, by formal listing, our conviction that North Korea supports terrorism," Redman said.
Kim Hyon Hui, a confessed North Korean agent, was charged earlier this month by South Korea with planting a bomb on Korean Air Flight 858, which disappeared Nov. 29 with 115 people on board. The plane was flying from Abu Dhabi to Seoul when it went down off the coast of Burma.
Kim told South Korean police that she and a partner, who later committed suicide, acted on the orders of Kim Jong Il, the son and heir apparent of North Korean President Kim Il Sung. The sabotage incident apparently was intended to stir security concerns before the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, to be held in Seoul.
Redman said that the Administration "has concluded that the evidence of North Korean culpability is compelling. We call on all nations to condemn North Korea for this terrorist action."