U.S. to Ban Americans From Visiting North Korea
The US is to ban its citizens from travelling to North Korea.
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate there, said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later.
They were informed by the Swedish embassy, which conducts US affairs in the country.
US officials have confirmed the ban to US media and linked it to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier, but given no details on date or scope.
Mr Warmbier travelled to North Korea with Young Pioneer Tours. He was arrested in 2016 for trying to steal a propaganda sign and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was returned to the US in a coma in June and died a week later.
How did the news come to light?
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours both revealed on Friday that they had been told of the upcoming ban by the Swedish embassy, which acts for the US as Washington has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
Rowan Beard, of Young Pioneer Tours, told the BBC the embassy was urging all US nationals to depart immediately.
He said the embassy was trying to check on the number of US tourists left in the country.
What form will the ban take?
A Young Pioneer Tours statement said: "It is expected that the ban will come into force within 30 days of July 27th.
"After the 30-day grace period any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government."
Rowan Beard said that the 30-day grace period would "give leeway for any [Americans] currently in the country as tourists or on humanitarian work".
Simon Cockerell, of Koryo Tours, said: "It remains to be seen what the exact text is, but the indication is it's just a straight up ban on Americans going."
Associated Press news agency quoted US officials as saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to implement a "geographical travel restriction" for North Korea, meaning the use of US passports to enter would be illegal.
How have the travel agencies reacted?
Mr Cockerell told the BBC the agency would still conduct tours and take Americans until the ban came into effect.