The United States has revoked visa-free entry rights for foreigners who have visited North Korea in the past eight years.
The US currently allows citizens of 38 countries – including the United Kingdom and France – to enter for up to 90 days without a visa under a waiver program.
As for members of ASEAN nations, Singapore and Brunei are participants of the program.
Under the new rule, visitors who have traveled to eight countries, including North Korea, since March 1, 2011, are “no longer eligible” to enjoy such a waiver and will have to formally apply for tourist or business visas.
The other seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Lao citizens are currently not subject to the waiver program, meaning they must apply for a tourist or other types of visas to enter the US.
However, the change could affect Lao persons holding a French or other passport, or those who have family members with French or other citizenship.
Laos and North Korea established diplomatic ties in 1974, and bilateral relations and official exchanges of visits have been on the rise since the 1990s.
As the latest example, Top North Korean diplomat Ri Su Yong visited Laos in March with a delegation of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
At that time, Ri was expected to address party-to-party relations with top government officials of the ruling socialist Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.
Meanwhile, in December last year, a delegation from the Lao foreign ministry visited Pyongyang. It came after the Lao delegation’s visit to the North Korean capital for the September 9 foundation day celebrations.
Despite friendly relations, Laos has expressed its opinion on matters such as the North Korean – US Summit last year, and even expressed concern over North Korean nuclear tests in 2017.
It is unclear how many Lao citizens visit North Korea for sightseeing, but The Laotian Times has confirmed that there are several Lao students who study in North Korea to obtain university-level degrees each year.