Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to ban all travel by Americans to North Korea, due to "the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention" by the rogue regime.
"Once in effect, U.S. passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Friday.
The decision has long been contemplated by U.S. officials, and got a new round of endorsements in light of the death of an American college student who was detained and abused while traveling in North Korea. The rule will take effect in the late August.
"Individuals seeking to travel to North Korea for certain limited humanitarian or other purposes may apply to the Department of State for a special validation passport," Nauert said.
Tillerson told House lawmakers that he was "evaluating" a travel ban in June, one day after the evacuation of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier from North Korea. Warmbier, who had been detained and sentenced to hard labor for stealing propaganda poster, was in a coma at the time of his release and died shortly after returning to the United States. There are three other Americans currently imprisoned in the country.
"[M]y concern, indeed, [is] that tourists got here simply supporting a dictatorial totalitarian regime," Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who co-sponsored legislation mandating a travel ban, told Tillerson at the June hearing.
Occasionally, the regime treats an American especially well. Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has complimented dictator Kim Jong-un and visited repeatedly.