U.S. to Ban Tourist Visits to North Korea, Tour Operators Say – Jonathan Cheng Updated July 21, 2017 5:54 a.m. ET


Move comes weeks after U.S. college student Otto Warmbier died from a brain injury after he was released from a North Korean prison

Passengers boarded an Air Koryo plane bound for Beijing at the Pyongyang International Airport in North Korea in June 2015.

Passengers boarded an Air Koryo plane bound for Beijing at the Pyongyang International Airport in North Korea in June 2015. Photo: Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

SEOUL—The U.S. government will ban its citizens from traveling to North Korea as tourists starting next month, according to two of the biggest travel companies that bring Western tourists to the isolated country.

The travel ban would come just weeks after U.S. college student Otto Warmbier, who was detained while on a tour in Pyongyang last year, died after he returned home in June with a severe brain injury.

The two tour operators, China-based Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, said Friday the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which handles U.S. diplomatic affairs in North Korea, had contacted them separately by phone to inform them of the U.S. decision.

Officers at both companies said the Swedish Embassy told them the U.S. would make the announcement on Thursday next week, with the ban to take effect 30 days later, in late August. Violating the ban would lead to the U.S. government invalidating the traveler’s passport, Young Pioneer said it was told.

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