US to ban citizens from North Korea travel: Tour operators

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Seoul, July 21 (IANS) The US will soon ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea, according to two tour operators in the reclusive country.

Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours said the ban would be announced on July 27 and will come into effect 30 days later, BBC reported on Friday. There was no official confirmation from the US.

The ties between the two countries were hit after the death of a US student arrested in North Korea while on a tour.

Both tour operators said that they had been told of the upcoming ban by the Swedish Embassy, which liaises on behalf of the US in North Korea as Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

In a 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.”

Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneer Tours, said the Embassy was urging all US nationals to depart immediately and was trying to check on the number of US tourists left in the country.

Young Pioneers was the agency that took US student Otto Warmbier to North Korea at the end of 2015. He was arrested there and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour after a North Korean court found him guilty of stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel in Pyongyang.

North Korea released him in June in a coma and he died days after getting back to the US. Three other US citizens remain in North Korean custody.

–IANS

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