August 3, 2017
US is Banning Travel to North Korea starting September 1
Although it’s not advisable for Americans to visit North Korea, it has always been possible. The easiest way to visit has been to fly to China and join one of several Chinese tour groups taking visitors into the communist country. I haven’t been able to stomach the risks involved in such a visit, but I did visit the DMZ this past June. The DMZ is the demilitarized zone between the North and South Korean border. I technically stood in North Korea by going inside one of the UN buildings on the border and standing on the North Korean side.
The US government officially banned American travel to North Korea last night. The ban is set to go into effect September 1, 2017, and Americans currently in North Korea are being told to leave. The ban is effective for one year, unless the State Department decides to extend it. Journalists and humanitarian workers can apply for a permit to visit the country if it’s in the ‘national interest’. North Korea becomes the only country where Americans are banned from visiting. (It’s a hassle to visit Cuba but there’s plenty of exceptions to the general ban on travel there).
The ban comes shortly after American student Otto Warmbier came back to the US in a coma and died shortly after. He had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly trying to steal a poster from his hotel room in North Korea. What do you think? Should the US ban Americans from traveling to North Korea or are American adults capable of making that decision on their own?