Ecuador imposes visa regulations on N. Koreans

Ecuador on Wednesday called off a visa waiver program for North Korea in an apparent response to U.N. sanctions on the North’s nuclear and missile tests.

The step took effect immediately after a foreign minister order requiring North Koreans to get a visa to enter Ecuador was announced in the official gazette on the day.

Up until now, North Koreans could stay in the South American nation without a visa for up to 90 days.

The visa restrictions are viewed as unusual given that Ecuador is one of the nations whose visa policies are the most lenient in the world. In addition, North Korea has been endeavoring to open diplomatic relations with Ecuador since anti-U.S. leftist Rafael Correa took the presidency in 2007.

Ecuador strongly guarantees the universal freedom of movement in its Constitution revised in 2008, allowing all nationals of all nations around the world, except for 11 countries, to enter visa-free.

The 11 nations are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal and Somalia.

The Ecuadorian step against the North is the second of its kind this year, following Malaysia.

On March 6, Malaysia excluded Pyongyang from its visa waiver program in a punitive step against the North’s alleged murder of Kim Jong-nam, a half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur Airport early last month.

In July last year, Singapore also ended a visa-free program for the North as part its measure to implement the U.N. Resolution 2270 against Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range missile launch the following month.

Now North Koreans can travel to only 38 nations visa-free. (Yonhap)

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