U.S. bans its citizens from traveling to NorthThe United States will ban its citizens from traveling to North Korea amid concerns about their safety, the State Department said Friday.
The announcement comes after the death of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who died last month after returning from North Korea in a coma.
“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 authorized a Geographical Travel Restriction on all U.S. citizen nationals’ use of a passport to travel in, through, or to North Korea,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
The restriction will be announced in the Federal Register next week and take effect 30 days after the notice’s publication.
Those wishing to travel to the North for “certain limited humanitarian or other purposes” will be required to apply for a special validation.
The U.S. has previously warned its citizens against travel to North Korea.
The measure comes as Congress pushes to prohibit Americans’ travel to North Korea following the shocking detention and death of 22-year-old Warmbier.
The University of Virginia student was arrested in the North in January last year for stealing a political propaganda sign from a hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
Following his release last month, Warmbier returned to his Ohio home but died several days later. North Korean officials claimed Warmbier fell into a coma in March last year due to botulism and a sleeping pill. Doctors in the U.S. said he had severe brain damage but the cause of his death remains unclear.
The travel ban could further chill ties between Washington and Pyongyang, which are already strained over North Korea’s defiant pursuit of nuclear and missile capabilities as demonstrated in its first test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month.