The US State Department announced that its travel ban on North Korea will come into effect on 1 September and there will be limited exemptions. The ban is likely to make it harder for former basketball star Dennis Rodman, a frequent visitor to the isolated country, to become Kim Jong-un's guest.

On Wednesday, 2 August, the department said the ban on US citizens travelling to the North will remain in force for a year unless it is either extended or revoked by the Secretary of State.

Washington has also urged the American nationals to get out of the reclusive nation before the ban goes into effect.

However, the State Department has said people falling into four categories will be exempted from the travel ban. Professional journalists covering North Korea and the staff of American Red Cross or International Committee of the Red Cross on official duties would be allowed.

The remaining two categories are aid workers with "compelling humanitarian considerations" or those who want to travel "in the national interest". These people need to secure the permission of the Secretary of State for their travel.

Unfortunately, Rodman, an American citizen, who earlier said he toured North Korea as a "private citizen", is unlikely to be exempted from the travel ban unless he chooses other convoluted ways such as acquiring dual citizenship. The US State Department expects about 100 people will apply for the travel exemptions annually.

"The Department of State has determined that the serious risk to United States nationals of arrest and long-term detention represents an imminent danger to the physical safety of United States nationals travelling to and within the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea]," said a notice from the Federal Register of the State Department.

Every year, about 800 to 1,200 American citizens travel to North Korea and the numbers are expected to sharply dwindle this year, largely because of the death of 21-year-old student Otto Warmbier. The travel ban is being introduced after Warmbier, who was imprisoned for 17 months by North Korea, died shortly he was evacuated by US officials.

Dennis Rodman and North Korea travel ban
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with Dennis Rodman (L) after they watched a basketball game between former US NBA basketball players and North Korean players of the Hwaebul team of the DPRK at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium - filephoto Kyodo via Reuters