The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday that they’re sending a big message to Americans about North Korea: Don’t go there. They’ve imposed an outright ban with a hefty punishment but four exceptions.
The travel ban will begin on Sept. 1 for U.S. travelers hoping to visit the totalitarian regime. For anyone trying to use their American passport to get in, it’s a felony.
However, the State Department said there are four exceptions. Journalists who want to cover what’s going on in North Korea are one of the exceptions. Red Cross workers are another. Aid workers with “compelling humanitarian considerations” can be an exception, too, although it’s unclear if that would include Gospel-preaching missionaries. The fourth exception is for those whose travel to the country is of “national interest” for the U.S.
A fifth exception was not specifically granted for retired NBA player Dennis Rodman, who has gotten so buddy-buddy with the North Korean regime that he gets invited to spend time with their leadership, according to the New York Times. He last visited in June. Because there are no flight between the U.S. and North Korea, travelers have to get there through China.
But why would anyone visit a country that likes to jail Americans indefinitely for even minor infractions and has a terrible human rights record? For some, it’s for experiencing the thrill of doing something dangerous. For others, it’s for bragging rights and selfies.
Travel blogger Anjaly Thomas and and travel agent Andrea Lee both describe the experience of visiting the country as extremely structured and full of make-believe, according to the New York Post and the Daily Beast. Thomas emphasized how nothing outsiders are shown while on strictly regimented tours in the country is real, but Lee pointed out the beauty of learning about another culture and sharing your own.
But now with the exception of a select few, your dreams of visiting Kim Jong Un’s utopia are on indefinite hold.
What do you think about the travel ban? In related North Korea news, a Republican senator answered questions about whether he believes President Trump is ready to bomb the country.