The Department of State has announced it will restrict all U.S. citizens from traveling into, in, or through North Korea beginning Sept. 1. This warning, issued on Thursday, comes in the wake of the escalating rhetoric between the DPRK and President Donald Trump over the past few days.
All persons traveling to North Korea could possibly be implicit in the funding of its nuclear program, according to the warning.
"The DPRK funnels revenue from a variety of sources to its nuclear and weapons programs, which it prioritizes above everything else, often at the expense of the well-being of its own people," the warning said. "It is entirely possible that money spent by tourists in the DPRK goes to fund these programs. We would urge all travelers, before travelling to the DPRK, to consider what they might be supporting."
U.S. passport holders wishing to North Korea after Sept 1. must obtain special passport validation and according to the State Department, "such validations will only be granted under very limited circumstances."
"North Korea’s arbitrary system of law enforcement poses an imminent danger to the physical safety of U.S. nationals, U.S. passports may be used to travel into, through, or from North Korea after September 1, 2017, only if they contain a special validation," the warning said.
According to the warning, attempting to use a U.S. passport in violation of the new restrictions could result in criminal charges and the revocation of the passport. Additionally, North Korean authorities have stated that any U.S. citizens detained in the country will be treated in accordance with "wartime law of the DPRK."
At least 16 U.S. citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past ten years. North Korean authorities have detained individuals who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours. The report cautioned that being a part of a group tour will not prevent detention or arrest.
The warning also cautioned that any U.S. citizen who does obtain special permission to enter North Korea should be aware that—whether committed intentionally or not—the country considers the following actions a crime:
- Showing disrespect to the country’s former leaders, Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, or the country’s current leader, Kim Jong Un, including but not limited to tampering with or mishandling materials bearing their names or images
- Entering North Korea without proper travel documentation
- Possessing material that is in any way critical of the DPRK government
- Proselytizing or carrying out religious activities, including activities that may be construed as such, like leaving behind religious materials
- Engaging in unsanctioned political activities
- Traveling without authorization, even for short distances
- Having unauthorized interaction with the local population
- Exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor
- Taking unauthorized photographs
- Bringing pornography into the country
- Shopping at stores not designated for foreigners
- Removing or tampering with political slogans and signs or pictures of political leaders
The State Department urges all U.S. citizens planning on traveling to North Korea before Sept. 1 to contact the U.S. embassy in Beijing, China.