Beginning 1st September (2017), any U.S. passport holders will no longer be able to travel to North Korea, according to a statement issued by the U.S. State Department.
Officials have told any U.S. passport holders that currently reside there should leave before the restrictions are put into place. It’s not the kind of place you want to be stranded at.
This travel restriction will remain for at least a year, unless it’s either extended or revoked before then by Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. Despite all of this, journalists and humanitarian workers may be able to apply for exceptions to this ban.
The reason for this ban is mostly to do with safety concerns with U.S. citizens visiting the country. This June (2017) saw 22-year-old Otto Warmbier released under humanitarian grounds after falling into a coma. He was originally sentenced to 15 years hard labour in North Korea for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster back in March 2016.
Sadly, Otto died days after his release on the 19th June (2017). North Korean officials claim his falling into a coma was due to botulism and a sleeping pill. However, doctors treating him revealed he actually had severe injuries to all areas of his brain.
Over the last 10 years, 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea whether they were independently travelling or part of an organised tour.
Possession of any kind of media there which is critical of the North Korean Government or its leaders is considered a criminal offence, punishable by long-term detention in hard labour camps and heavy fines.
This will be the first country that Americans aren’t allowed to travel to, and with rising tensions it’s probably going to stay this way for a long time yet.