North Korea Responds to ‘Childish’ U.S. Travel Ban: American Tourists Are Welcome Anytime

Kim Jong Un waves
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves from a balcony of the Grand People’s Study House following a military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on April 15. Pyongyang labeled the U.S. travel ban “childish” and said it would continue welcoming American tourists. Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has responded defiantly to the U.S. banning its citizens from traveling to the rogue state. The ban will take effect on September 1.

A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry told the state-controlled KCNA news agency Thursday that foreign tourists had no reason to fear for their safety in the country, welcoming all and any U.S. citizens who may want to visit.

“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 was quoted as saying.

“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,” he added.

The U.S. introduced a travel ban to North Korea after the death of U.S. tourist Otto Warmbier, who suffered brain damage while under arrest in North Korea and died upon his return to America.

The ban was announced in July and published on the Federal Register on Wednesday. It prohibits U.S. passport holders from entering North Korea, unless they are journalists, humanitarian workers or promoting U.S. national interests.

North Korea currently has three American citizens in detention on charges of spying, subversion and “hostile acts” against the country. Pyongyang has stated that it is the government’s “sovereign right” to punish those who break the law in the country. The spokesperson also called the travel ban a “childish measure” and “a reflection of the U.S. administration’s perception which regards the DPRK as an enemy.”

The latest comments come after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday the U.S. does not see North Korea as an enemy, although he described nuclear development program as a threat. "We’re trying to convey to the North Koreans we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond,” he said at a press briefing.

U.S. President Donald Trump also signed off on new sanctions against North Korea on Wednesday in response to human rights abuses and the repeated missile test launches.

Pyongyang rejected the sanctions, claiming they will only increase the country’s “vigilance and stamina, and provides further justification for its access to nukes.”