USA to ban citizens from visiting North Korea

22 July, 2017, 00:58 | Author: Franklin Nunez
  • USA to ban citizens from visiting North Korea

Beijing-based Young Pioneer Tours had organized United States college student Otto Warmbier's trip to North Korea. On July 16 that deadline came and went, and USA government officials have apparently decided that Beijing was not doing enough.

He said the company was informed in the afternoon of the new policy by the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which represents US interests in North Korea as the two countries have no diplomatic ties.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has authorized a "Geographical Travel Restriction" on Americans to forbid them from entering North Korea, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Young Pioneer Tours was the same tour operator through which USA student Otto Warmbier went to the isolated nation.

Since the death of American student Otto Warmbier in June, tensions between North Korea and the United States have worsened. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor after being convicted by North Korean officials for stealing a propaganda poster from his hotel last January.

The release of Warmbier on June 13 came while North Korea is being increasingly isolated from the worldwide community over its defiant pursuit of nuclear arms and missile technology.

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Earlier this month, North Korea tested an ICBM missile, drawing condemnation from the U.S. and other countries.

Two tourism companies that specialize in trips to North Korea announced the ban Friday morning.

The U.S. government has not confirmed this information.

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

Two agencies offering trips to the secretive state said the USA would soon ban its citizens from visiting.

Following Warmbier's death, Young Pioneer Tours, that was established in 2008 in China's Xi'an, refused to organize trips to North Korea for U.S. residents because "the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high". Around 6,000 Westerners visit the reclusive country every year, so USA tourists represent only a sixth of this particular pie.

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The Transitional Justice Working Group, which issued the report, is based in Seoul and led by Lee Younghwan, a defector who has worked as an advocate for human rights in North Korea.

Warmbier was arrested past year while on the sightseeing tour. The State Department now strongly warns Americans against traveling to North Korea.

Secret Compass has brought three Americans among the 19 people it took to North Korea since launching tours there last fall, he said.

Korean-American professor Kim Sang-duk (or Tony Kim) who was detained in April 2017.

In all, about 5,000 Western tourists have visited North Korea each year.

The US wants North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear and missile programmes.

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