The Trump administration is expected Wednesday to publish new rules that would make it all but impossible for most Americans to visit North Korea.
The decision, which will be published in the Federal Register, comes after the death in June of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old University of Virginia student who was imprisoned by the communist state for more than a year and spent much of that time in a coma. The travel restrictions will go into effect 30 days after the official publication of the notice.
Under the new rules, the U.S. State Department declared all U.S. passports invalid for travel to North Korea with the exception of travel in the national interest and for journalists, members of the Red Cross, and for humanitarian work. Those who wish to go to North Korea must apply to the State Department for their passports to be validated.
“The Department of State has determined that the serious risk to United States nationals of arrest and long-term detention represents imminent danger to the physical safety of United States nationals traveling to and within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the notice said.
Although the State Department previously warned U.S. citizens not to travel to the country, travel was never banned outright. In all, some 1,000 Americans are estimated to travel each year to the country—providing North Korea with a valuable source of revenue. But the risks are clear. Indeed, at least three U.S. citizens are still detained in North Korea. They are: Kim Dong-chul, 62, who was sentenced in April 2016 to 10 years of hard labor for spying; Kim Sang-duk, who was detained in April of this year; and Kim Hak-song, who was detained in May for “hostile acts.”