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‘We don’t care’ about US travel ban: North Korea

Washington’s ban on US citizens travelling to North Korea will have no effect on the country’s tourism industry and Pyongyang does not care about it “at all”, a senior development official insisted on Tuesday.

The measure is due to be enacted this week and once it goes into force US passports will no longer be valid for travel to the isolated country, which is subject to multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Around 5,000 Western tourists visit the North each year, tour companies say, with about 20 percent of them Americans. Standard one-week trips cost about USD 2,000.

But Han Chol-Su, vice-director of the Wonsan Zone Development Corporation, denied the loss of business would have any impact.

“If the US government says Americans cannot come to this country, we don’t care a bit,” he told AFP in Pyongyang.

Washington announced the move after the death of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour in the North for trying to steal a propaganda poster.

Warmbier was sent home in a mysterious coma last month — Pyongyang said he had contracted botulism — and died soon afterwards, prompting US President Donald Trump to denounce the “brutal regime”.

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