On Friday the U.S. State Department revealed plans to institute a ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea to prevent the tyrannical regime’s despot Kim Jong Un from harming any more Americans.
“Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, the secretary has authorized a Geographical Travel Restriction on all U.S. citizen nationals’ use of a passport to travel in, through, or to North Korea,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced in a statement, as reported by NBC.
Scheduled to be implemented in late August, the ban reportedly proposed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would allow for case-by-case exceptions for “certain humanitarian reasons,” according to the statement.
Friday’s announcement came only weeks after the death Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American who was sentenced last year to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for the alleged theft of a propaganda sign while on a visit to North Korea. He was returned to the U.S. in a coma last month after being released on humanitarian grounds, but died shortly after.
According to Reuters, three Americans still remain in North Korean custody, including two Korean-American academics and a missionary.
While it remains unclear exactly how many Americans are currently in the Hermit Kingdom, hundreds visit the nation annually — each of them at great risk to their own personal safety and well-being.
Whether the State Department’s planned ban will be enough to deter thrill seekers and others from pursuing travel to North Korea remains to be seen, as noted by Matthew Bradley, a regional security director with travel safety firm International SOS and Control Risks.
“It’s very difficult to remove the incentive,” he told The Washington Post. “There will still be people who risk it.”
Similar bans were implemented on Iran between 1980 and 1981, Lebanon between 1987 and 1997, Iraq between 1991 and 2003, Libya between 1981 and 2004 and Cuba between 1963 and 1977.
According to NBC, however, prosecutions for violating such bans are extremely rare.
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