U.S. extends travel ban on North Korea for third year

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U.S. extends travel ban on North Korea for third year

The United States has extended a travel ban on North Korea for another year on Monday, saying the country continues to pose a “serious risk” for Americans.

A notice uploaded by the U.S. State Department on the Federal Register Monday read that all U.S. passports will be declared invalid for travel to, in or through North Korea through Aug. 31, 2020 unless the restriction is extended or revoked by the secretary of state.

The ban was initially imposed on Sept. 1, 2017 by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and extended for another year last year. Tillerson made the move following the death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who died less than a week after his release from 17 months of detainment in North Korea. Warmbier returned home in a coma, though Pyongyang denied any fault in his state.

“The Department of State has determined that there continues to be serious risk to United States nationals of arrest and long-term detention representing imminent danger to the physical safety of United States nationals traveling to and within the DPRK,” the notice read, referring to the North by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

U.S. passport holders who wish to travel to the North for humanitarian missions or professional journalism are required to seek special permission from the U.S. government.

Washington’s latest decision to extend its travel ban comes less than a month after it put new restrictions on its Visa Waiver Program that means South Koreans who visited the North from March 1, 2011 onward can no longer visit the United States visa-free.

Before Aug. 6, South Koreans were eligible to visit the United States visa-free for up to 90 days as long as they registered through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization at least three days in advance. From Aug. 6, South Koreans who visited the North on or after March 1, 2011 must obtain a visa from a U.S. consular office to travel to the United States.

The South Korean government tallied nearly 37,000 South Koreans visited the North at least once since March 1, 2011.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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