In a news conference, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the time travel restriction of a foreign citizen who travels abroad for work or pleasure is not an exception to the travel restrictions that apply to all citizens.
North Korea has long imposed travel restrictions on foreigners, but the Foreign Ministry statement was the first time Pyongyang has said it was imposing travel restrictions for foreigners, or that such restrictions are a matter of national emergency.
The statement said the travel restriction applies to foreign citizens who visit the country, who have been working in the country for six months or longer, or who have had contacts with North Korean officials and their families for a period of six months.
“This travel restriction is a national emergency, so the decision of the relevant authorities is based on their consideration of the situation and the international laws and conventions,” the statement said.
The travel restriction, issued on June 23, does not affect the work of foreign nationals who have a valid North Korean passport, or those who have worked in the North since June 11, when the North imposed a two-month travel ban.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said last month that the travel ban will not affect North Korean citizens who are visiting the country.
The North’s foreign ministry statement said that the new travel restrictions are not in line with the policy of the ruling Workers’ Party.
It said the policy was to maintain international peace and security and that North Korea’s foreign policy is based upon the principle of national sovereignty.
North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The United States and South Korean government, which are technically allies of North Korea, have imposed travel bans on the North and other countries for the duration of the war, which is the longest since the Korean War ended in 1953.
The Washington Post’s Kim Young-ho reported from Seoul, South Korea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.