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BREAKING: US to ban its citizens from entering North Korea

A general view of a national meeting took place to celebrate the 5th anniversary of leader Kim Jong Un's assumption of the top posts of the party and the state, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang April 12, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. - RTX355V2

The United States is set to implement and enforce a ban on all US citizens travelling to North Korea according to a statement from Young Pioneer Tours, a travel agency based in China which offers Americans and others the opportunity to go on sightseeing tours of North Korea.

The statement was further confirmed by Koryo Tours agency which offers similar tours of North Korea.

Simon Cockerell, the general manager of the Beijing based Koryo Tours gave the following statement,

“It’s a pity, because if you’re pro-human engagement, there’s nothing anywhere near as good as human contact as a tool to combat media narratives about what people from other places are like.

Unfortunately, the representation of Americans in official (North Korean) state media is horribly negative,” he continued. “One thing counteracting this – for the few people who can interact with them – is human level contact. And that now is not an option”.

The move is a blow to curious travellers as well as those interested in overcoming political divides through cultural enrichment and educational opportunities.

Others have stated that the move is primarily motivated to keep US hard-currency out of North Korea at a time when Washington seeks to impose further sanctions on Pyongyang.

It is estimated that 1,250 Americans visit North Korea per-year, an average calculated based on recorded visits between 2010, when Pyongyang lifted tourism restrictions for US passport holders and the present day. The annual turnover from US tourism in North Korea is said to be worth $1.9 million per annum.

Further sanctions on Pyongyang are staunchly opposed by two of North Korea’s neighbours, China and Russia.

READ MORE: Foreign Ministers of Russia and China agree on North Korea and Syria (VIDEO)

The tour companies stated that they received their information from the Swedish consulate in Pyongyang which handles business relating to the US as the American government has no diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Neither Washington nor Pyongyang have officially made a statement on the issue.

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