MOSCOW, July 21. /TASS/.The Young Pioneer Tours operator, based in China, that organizes tours to North Korea, has reported on the intention of US authorities to ban its citizens from making tourist trips to North Korea in the near future.
"We have just been informed that the US government will no longer be allowing US citizens to travel to the DPRK (North Korea). It is expected that the ban will come into force within 30 days of July 27th," the statement of Young Pioneer Tours, published on the company’s web site on Friday, says.
According to the tour operator, after the ban comes into force, the US government will invalidate passports of its citizens who travel to North Korea.
The Reuters agency reported that information on the prepared ban had been confirmed by China’s Koryo Tours operator that also organizes trips to North Korea.
TASS does not have any official comments from the US authorities.
It was Young Pioneer Tours that organized a trip for a 22-year-old US student of the University of Virginia, Otto Warmbier, to Pyongyang where he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment after trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel.
After North Korean authorities released Warmbier he was delivered to his homeland on June 13 and immediately sent to a hospital in Cincinnati (the US state of Ohio). The examination showed he had an extensive loss of brain tissue. He died soon after that.
US President Donald Trump said North Korean authorities were responsible for the student’s death. The US leader stressed that his administration planned to prevent new incidents of such kinds. The US authorities also recommended its citizens not to travel to North Korea, considering the high risk.
Following Warmbier’s death, Young Pioneer Tours, that was established in 2008 in China’s Xi’an, refused to organize trips to North Korea for US residents because "the assessment of risk for Americans visiting North Korea has become too high."
Before Warmbier’s death, on May 25 the US Congress was presented a draft law banning tourist visits to North Korea for US citizens. It was developed my House of Representatives members Adam Schiff (a Democrat representative for California) and Joe Wilson (a Republican representative for South Carolina).
According to Schiff and Wilson, their actions were prompted by the fact that at least 17 US citizens had been arrested in North Korea in the past 10 years. The draft law imposes of a full ban on tourist trips to North Korea for US citizens and requires special licenses from the US Department of the Treasure for other types of visits.