The United States government is set to ban travel to North Korea starting September 1.
U.S. passports will be invalid for travel to North Korea beginning September 1, the New York Times reports. The new ban comes during tensions over intercontinental ballistic missile tests by North Korea, who has threatened to attack the United States with nuclear weapons.
According to Reuters, the ban will still allow for an exemption that would let Americans, including journalists and humanitarian workers, obtain passports with a special validation for visits to the country.
Word of the North Korea travel ban began back in June with the government informed Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, two tour operators that sell travel to the country, that a ban was in the works.
The move followed the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who had used China-based Young Pioneer Tours to travel to North Korea. He arrived in the country in January of last year and was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal a propaganda poster. He was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment with hard labor and died June 19 at the age of 22, six days after being released in a coma and flown to his home in Cincinnati.
A State Department travel warning for North Korea has been in effect for some time. The travel warning advised U.S. citizens that traveling to the country places them at “serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement.”
“At least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past ten years,” the State Department wrote on its website. “North Korean authorities have detained those who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours. Being a member of a group tour or using a tour guide will not prevent North Korean authorities from detaining or arresting you. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not been successful.”