US to Ban Travel to North Korea
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This just in: American citizens will no longer be able to visit North Korea starting in August. The largest agencies that operate tourist visits — Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours — have said that the ban is expected to be announced on July 27 and will come into effect 30 days later. This morning, the US State Department issued a statement citing “serious risk of arrest” and “long-term detention” among concerns that prompted the travel restriction.
In an earlier statement, Young Pioneer Tours said: “After the 30-day grace period, any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government.” The agency was informed of the change by the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, which represents the US in North Korea.
The US State Department has strongly warned its citizens to not travel to North Korea since May, claiming that those who do are at serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under the country’s system of law enforcement for crimes that wouldn’t normally be considered as illegal acts in the United States. At least 16 US citizens have been detained in the country over the past decade. Most recently, Otto Warmbier — a student who was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel — died six days after he was released from custody in a coma in June.
Image courtesy of George Pachantouris via Getty Images.
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