North Korea was removed from the list (which includes Iran, Syria and Sudan) in 2008 in order to facilitate nuclear talks then taking place under the administration of President George W. Bush. At the start of a meeting of the US Cabinet in the White House, Trump accused the DPRK administration of sponsoring 'acts of International Terrorism.' This decision was produced one week after the return of the US President from his Asian tour to five countries: Japan, Republic of South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The question of whether Trump would reinstall North Korea to the list hung over the President's recent Asia trip.
US officials cited the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half brother in a Malaysian airport this year as an act of terrorism.
While North Korea is widely regarded as one of the most oppressive governments in the world with respect to its own people, its involvement with worldwide terrorism is less prominent.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism is part of a push to continue "to turn the pressure up".
"In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea repeatedly supported acts of worldwide terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil", Trump said.
Arab League delivers harsh criticism of Iran, little action
He alleged, "Iranian threats have gone beyond all limits and pushed the region into a unsafe abyss". Iran has dismissed allegations that it armed the Houthis with ballistic missiles.
US financial institutions are already banned from engaging in business with people or entities associated with the North Korean government.
"It's a purely symbolic move by the Trump administration to show that it's being as tough as possible when it comes to North Korea, but in practice the USA, with the recent legislation that Congress passed in August and the designation from the U.N. Security Council, can already impose massive wide sanctions on the North Korean economy as well as against other countries doing business with North Korea", Fuchs says.
United Nations spokesperson Farhan Haq said the UN has "nothing to say" about the U.S. designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
"We've had the North Koreans on the state sponsor of terror before..." He also mentions multiple North Korean assassinations and assassination plots, including the killing of Kim Jong Nam, Kim's half brother, who was poisoned earlier this year at a Malaysian airport.
Thae was No. 2 in the North Korean embassy in London before he escaped with his wife and two sons, arriving in South Korea in 2016.