US 'to ban Americans from visiting' North Korea

Javier Stokes
July 22, 2017

The BBC reports that Young Pioneer Tours was the agency that took U.S student, Otto Warmbier, to North Korea.

Anthony Ruggiero, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former U.S. Treasury official, said the State Department action was important as it would limit North Korea's ability to use detained Americans as bargaining chips with Washington as it has in the past.

His company takes between 300 and 400 Americans to North Korea each year, he said, adding that the company has begun informing USA customers who had reserved tours of the ban.

"Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea's system of law enforcement, the secretary has authorised a Geographical Travel Restriction on all United States citizen nationals' use of a passport to travel in, through, or to North Korea", Nauert said.

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

Young Pioneer Tours, a China-based travel agent, made headlines in June following the death of Warmbier after he returned from North Korea in a coma.

Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student from OH, used China-based Young Pioneer Tours to travel to North Korea in January 2016, only to be arrested on charges of attempting to steal a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labor.

Three other Americans are in North Korean captivity.

SEOUL, South Korea South Korea on Friday urged North Korea to accept its offers for talks as Pyongyang continued to ignore Seoul's proposal for a military meeting to ease animosities along their tense border.

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According to Schiff and Wilson, their actions were prompted by the fact that at least 17 USA citizens had been arrested in North Korea in the past 10 years.

The North Koreans had told United States officials that Warmbier slipped in a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill.

Well the number of people who visit North Korea might be higher than you think Simon Cockerell, who represents the Koryo company in Beijing, says that between 800 to 1,000 Americans visit North Korea every year.

The latest travel advisory issued by the Department of State dated May 9, said: "North Korean authorities have detained those who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours".

Travel agencies organising trips to the isolated country had said earlier on Friday they were informed of the impending change.

North Korea only relaxed its rules for American visitors in 2010.

The "DPR Korea Tour" website, run by the North's National Tourism Administration, depicts the country - which is subject to stiff sanctions over its weapons programs - as just another tourist destination.

Before he was medically evacuated from North Korea, he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor. Kim Hak Song, a Korean-American professor at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was arrested in May and was reportedly charged with suspicion of "hostile acts" towards the regime.

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