A week and a half ago we learned that the federal government planned to ban US citizens from traveling to North Korea.
Today the State Department’s notice on “United States Passports Invalid for Travel to, in, or Through the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” was published in the Federal Register. (.pdf)
The Department of State is declaring all U.S. passports invalid for travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) unless the travel meets certain criteria.
The restriction on travel is in place for one year “unless extended or sooner revoked by the Secretary of State.”
North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un Visits Pyongyang’s Airport
North Korea becomes the only country I am aware of where US passports are considered not to be valid for travel by the U.S. government. There are countries the US makes is difficult to visit, such as via OFAC restrictions, but not impossible.
In the past restrictions on use of US passports have been in place precluding US citizens from traveling to countries such as Iraq and Iran, as well as certain communist-controlled countries and territories.
This rule allows the Department of State to offer special validation of passports for North Korea travel if “determined to be in the national interest” and the person seeking to travel is a professional journalist traveling to “”obtain, and make available to the public, information about the restricted area,” if the person is representing the Red Cross on an official mission, if the trip is “justified by compelling humanitarian considerations” or if the trip “is otherwise in the national interest.”
In North Korea Only Kim Jong Un Can Afford to Fly
I’ve reached out to the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Office of Legal Affairs to determine if they’ve in fact established a process yet to evaluate these requests and what guidance they’ll be using in making any decision. They’ve promised to get back to me but haven’t offered any timeline for doing so. I will update this post if that happens.
I believe this restriction will do as much to advance US foreign policy interests as would the subversive power of dance.