A ban on travel by U.S. passport holders to North Korea will take effect on Sept. 1 and Americans in the country should leave before that date, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.
The U.S. said it would likely begin a ban after the death of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was detained in Pyongyang’s airport as he prepared to leave the country Jan. 2, 2016.
In a sham trial, North Korea convicted Warmbier of a “hostile act” against the state for allegedly stealing a propaganda banner from a hotel. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, and was never heard from again until North Korea sent him back to the U.S. in June in a coma. He died six days later.
North Korea claimed Warmbier lost consciousness due to sleeping pill, but U.S. doctors doubted those claims and said the 22-year-old student suffered “severe injuries to all areas” of his brain. It remains unclear what happened to him during his captivity.
At least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past 10 years, and at least three are being held there now.
The ban came as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea skyrocket while Kim Jong Un’s empire accelerates its capabilities for long-range missiles.
U.S. citizens wishing to travel to North Korea would have to obtain a special validation for their passports, which would only be granted in limited circumstances, the department said in a statement.