It was the first time the United States had identified the North Korean leader as a direct target for sanctions, and diplomats say the decision will incense the nuclear-armed country, where the leader is considered infallible.
The sanctions, which target property and other assets within U.S. jurisdiction, extend to 10 other individuals and five entities, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
"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," Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J. Szubin said in the statement.
A report by the U.S. State Department to Congress seen by Reuters listed those responsible for the commission of serious human rights abuses and censorship in North Korea.
The North Korean leader topped the list.
The North Korea mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.