US to ban citizens from visiting North Korea

The ban is said to have come about after North Korea's tests of nuclear missiles

North Korean square (Photo: Reuters)
North Korean square (Photo: Reuters)

The US is to ban citizens from travelling to North Korea, according to two agencies that operate tours there.

Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours said the ban would be announced on 27 July, in a statement to BBC news.

The Swedish Embassy in North Korea was the first to warn the agencies of the ban.

The embassy conducts US affairs in the country.

The death of jailed student Otto Warmbier and the Pyongyang’s nuclear programme are believed to be the catalysts for the ban.

Warmbier travelled to North Korea with Young Pioneer tours, one of the agencies warned of the ban. He was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda sign and sentenced to 15 years in prison.  He was returned to the US in a coma and died a week later. This month, North Korea announced it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneer Tours, told the BBC that the embassy was trying to check the number of US tourists left in the country.

The tour operator suggests that up to 1,000 visits per year could be affected.

There has been no official confirmation from the US. An alert strongly warning US citizens not to travel to North Korea was issued 9 May.

The agencies believe that “any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by the government” should the ban come into effect.

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