The Democratic People's Republic of Korea responded to the recent travel ban to their country imposed on U.S. citizens by the U.S. Department of State, accusing the U.S. government of censoring the “true picture of the DPRK” by limiting “people-to-people exchange.”
“We will always leave our door wide open to any U.S. citizen who would like to visit our country out of good will and to see the realities with their own eyes,” an article in the North Korean news-agency KCNA quoted a foreign minister as saying.
“There isn't any reason for the foreigners to feel threat to their safety in the DPRK, which has the most stable and strong state system, and numerous foreigners including Americans who visited our country unanimously agree on this,” the spokesperson said.
The travel ban was announced earlier this week, and will take effect on September 1st. The U.S. Department of State has ordered all U.S. citizens currently in the country to leave by that date, and beyond that date any unauthorized travel will result in the revocation of one's U.S. passport.
The travel ban has come amidst a host of other tensions. The U.S. has drafted a sanctions bill to be debated and voted on in the United Nations Security Council on Saturday, in response to the DPRK's continued development of a nuclear program.
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The Department of State has justified the ban as necessary following the death of U.S. student Otto Warmbier, who died of brain damage following his return to the U.S. from imprisonment in the DPRK. He was arrested after attempting to steal a banner.
The DPRK spokesperson also said that punishing those who come to their country to commit crimes is within their sovereign right, and said that “there is no country in the world that will ignore foreigners who committed hostil acts within its territory. It is a legitimate right of a sovereign state to punish criminals as required by laws.”
“Now is time for the Trump administration to come to its senses and make a decision to abandon its hostile policy toward the DPRK,” the spokesperson said.
While some U.S. officials have increasingly said that a “military option” is on the table on the Korean Peninsula, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently claimed that the U.S. is not looking for regime change, but is merely responding to a threat.