The BBC reports that Young Pioneer Tours was the agency that took U.S student, Otto Warmbier, to North Korea. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of US citizens in the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] have not been successful.
Hours before proposed military talks between South and North Korea, Pyongyang on Thursday still refused to confirm its participation, officials said.
The State Department on Friday said Americans who seek to travel to North Korea will need a "special validation passport" after the "geographical travel restriction" on U.S. citizens travelling there takes effect. Warmbier, an economics student from the University of Virginia, was given a 15-year prison sentence after attempting to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel.
The release of Warmbier on June 13 came while North Korea is being increasingly isolated from the global community over its defiant pursuit of nuclear arms and missile technology.
Up to now, the USA policy has been that it "strongly recommends against all travel by US citizens to North Korea".
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Fred Warmbier, his father, said: "The North Koreans lure Americans to travel to North Korea via tour groups run out of China, who advertise slick ads on the Internet proclaiming, "No American ever gets detained off of our tours and this is a safe place to go".
Tour operators suggest that up to 1,000 visit every year.
"Due to safety and security concerns, Secretary [Rex] Tillerson has authorized a Geographical Travel Restriction for #NorthKorea", the State Department tweeted. We should have a travel ban, and we're working on legislation right now.
United States intelligence indicates that North Korea is possibly planning to launch its next missile underwater as Pyongyang's submarine has been found sailing some 100 kilometers out to sea in worldwide waters. Last year North Korea allowed Chinese tourists to visit without passports, only increasing the volume of traffic.