State Department Announces Ban on Tourist Travel to Nor…

Abigail Williams

WASHINGTON — American citizens will soon be banned from traveling to North Korea after the U.S. State Department announced on Friday it would be issuing a “geographical travel restriction.”

Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said a Federal Register notice would be published next week and 30 days after the notice is published, the restriction will become active.

“The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities,” Nauert said. “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.”

Exceptions to the travel restriction can be made for “certain limited humanitarian” reasons, according to the statement. However, U.S. citizens seeking to travel for an acceptable reason will need to apply to the State Department for a special passport.

The new restrictions come a month after the death of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. college student who passed away after falling into a coma while imprisoned in North Korea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson previously floated the idea of travel restrictions to the reclusive nation during testimony last month before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Image: Otto Warmbier is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang

American student Otto Warmbier, center, is escorted at the Supreme Court in Pyongyang, North Korea, on March 16, 2016.