US bans citizens from visiting North Korea

Chelsea West
July 22, 2017

An employee at Young Pioneer Tours told the BBC that they were informed of the policy change by Sweden's embassy, which liaises on behalf of the North Korea as Washington does not have diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

Beijing-based Young Pioneer Tours had organized U.S. college student Otto Warmbier's trip to North Korea.

Daily Star Online revealed that Young Pioneer Tours would continue visiting the country regardless, but not with United States citizens. And how hard will North Korea be hit by the decision?

"We don't know the exact capabilities or intentions of the North Korean government, but there is clear evidence that it is trying to develop ballistic missiles that could conceivably one day reach our state", Miyagi said.

On his return to the USA, he was in "a state of unresponsive wakefulness" and unable to react to his environment, and died just six days later.

How did the news come to light?

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

It introduces package trips to various parts of the country including the capital Pyongyang, and offers various "theme tours" for travellers seeking something more unusual.

He said the embassy was trying to check on the number of USA tourists left in the country. An anonymous US official has also confirmed it to CNN.

The US has sent a strike group and conducting joint military drills with North Korea's regional adversaries Japan and South Korea off the peninsula's coast.

According to the tour operator, after the ban comes into force, the USA government will invalidate passports of its citizens who travel to North Korea.

Simon Cockerill of Koryo Tours said the company had also been contacted by the Swedish embassy.

There are believed to be three United States citizens now in custody in North Korea, the BBC reported.

How have the travel agencies reacted?

After the death of Warmbier, Young Pioneers announced last month that it would no longer accept USA customers.

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Young Pioneer Tours was the agency that took Warmbier to North Korea.

There has been movement towards a ban for a while in the U.S., which increased with the Warmbier death.

It is unclear whether the travel ban would also apply to humanitarian and educational work in North Korea.

"North Korea's missiles and development of weapons of mass destruction are measured as investment and production and support GDP growth", Shin Seung-cheol, an official at the BOK's economic statistics department, told Bloomberg.

"Once in effect, USA passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea", Nauert said.

Reacting to it, the U.S. had then said that it was an ICBM with an estimated range of 5,500 kilometers and capable of hitting Alaska.

North Korea may be preparing for another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or intermediate range missile test, U.S. intelligence sources told CNN on Thursday.

"We have just been informed that USA authorities will no longer allow U.S. citizens to travel to the DPRK 30 days after July 27th", the message read.

"While there are several possible explanations, the most likely is preparations for a test in the near future of an updated Pukguksong-1 [KN-11] submarine-launched ballistic missile or a potentially newer system", Bermudez writes. Westerners make up 5 percent of total visitors, Americans about 20 percent of the Western contingent, according to statistics.

"Everyone's safety in Hawaii is always our top priority", Charlene Chan, a spokeswoman for the state's Tourism Authority, said in a statement reported by the Star Advertiser.

What happened to Otto Warmbier?

In June, North Korea said he had been in a coma for a year after contracting botulism.

His family rejected North Korea's version of events, saying he had been subjected to "awful torturous mistreatment".

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

Moon took office in May pledging to engage the North in dialogue, as well as to bring pressure on it to impede its nuclear and missile programmes.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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