Decision follows death of Otto Warmbier six days after his release
The Trump administration plans to prohibit Americans from traveling to North Korea.
The Trump administration plans to prohibit Americans from traveling to North Korea, the State Department announced Friday, citing serious risks of arrest and imprisonment in the isolated totalitarian state.
The ban, first disclosed by tour groups that specialize in travel to North Korea, comes in apparent retaliation for the detention of U.S. citizens there and the death of a young tourist who was held for nearly 18 months before being flown home in a coma.
Two tour companies, Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, said they were told the ban would be formally declared July 27 and would take effect a month later.
“The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Friday. The ban would make U.S. passports invalid for travel to North Korea, although exemptions would allow Americans to obtain passports with a special validation for visits to the country. The restrictions will take effect 30 days after a no- tice is published in the Federal Register.
Otto Warmbier, a student from Ohio, used China-based Young Pioneer Tours to travel to North Korea in January 2016, only to be arrested on charges of attempting to steal a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor. He died June 19 at age 22, six days after being released in a coma and flown home to Cincinnati.
Three U.S. citizens remain imprisoned in North Korea. One is a businessman and two had taught at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a school attended by the children of North Korea’s elite.