SEOUL, North Korea accused the United States on Friday of conducting a "smear campaign" by charging someone it described as "non-existent" with carrying out cyberattacks.

The U.S. government earlier sanctioned a North Korean named Pak Jin-hyok for his alleged involvement in a cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014 and the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017.

The North has been suspected of orchestrating the hacking and it was the first time Washington had charged a North Korean hacker, U.S. media reported.

"Pak Jin Hyok whom the U.S. Department of Justice accuses of being implicated in the hacking attack into the American film company Sony Pictures Entertainment is a non-existent entity," a researcher at North Korea's foreign ministry said, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"And furthermore, the act of cyber crimes mentioned by the Justice Department has nothing to do with us," he added.

The cyberattack on Sony Pictures came after the production of the movie, "The Interview," which depicted an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The WannaCry ransomware affected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world.

"The U.S. farce of prosecution is none other than a vicious slander and another smear campaign full of falsehood and fabrication designed to undermine the DPRK," he said, using the abbreviation of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

He asserted that it was the U.S. that had undermined global cyber security, saying that Washington has been blamed for spying not just on its enemies but also on is allies.

"Nevertheless, the U.S. is forcibly linking the cyber-crimes with the DPRK; their purpose is to tarnish the prestigious external image of the DPRK, using cyber security issue as a pretext and thus justify their policy of maximum pressure," he said.

"The U.S. is totally mistaken if it seeks to gain anything from us through preposterous falsehoods and high-handedness," he added.

He called on the U.S. to refrain from "circulating falsehoods and inciting antagonism" at a time when the two countries have to move toward building mutual trust after their leaders' historic summit meeting in June.

Source: Yonhap News Agency