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State Dept. Advises Funeral Planning Before Traveling to North Korea

South Korean soldiers at the border with North Korea / Getty Images
• January 15, 2018 1:16 pm

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The State Department is advising Americans who plan on traveling to North Korea to write their wills and make funeral plans before entering the communist country.

The State Department's recently updated travel warning website page for North Korea warns travelers against going to the hermit nation and that, if there, Americans may not receive help and assistance if an emergency arises. Americans are also warned they may be arrested, detained and imprisoned by the regime.

However, if Americans go forward with a rare trip to North Korea, recommended preparations include planning for the possibility of death, Fox News reports.

  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.

The State Department also mentions that although the Swedish Embassy in North Korea is the protecting power for Americans, U.S. officials cannot guarantee they will be able to reach Americans in need of aid.

The website further indicates that being an American carries no special privilege in North Korea, and in the past 10 years, 16 American citizens have been detained.

One of those detainees was American college student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year and died days after he returned to the U.S. in a coma. Following his death, the House passed the Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions Act which aimed to impose the most far-reaching financial sanctions yet to be directed at North Korea by cutting off Pyongyang's ability to finance its weapons programs. At the time of the act's passage in October of last year, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman also sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Shortly after the act's passage, the Trump administration did designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, imposing further sanctions and penalties on Pyongyang.