All travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) is now banned by the United States Department of State, but the directive could be due to change in order to facilitate humanitarian aid. The review of these restrictions takes place amid ongoing nuclear diplomacy on the Korean peninsula.
At present, all travel to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) is banned by the U.S. Department of State, but this could could be changing for certain categories of travelers, reports the AP.
During his visit to South Korea last month, Stephen Biegun, who serves as the United States Special Representative for North Korea, intimated that some restrictions to the DPRK could be eased in order to facilitate humanitarian aid.
“I understand that many humanitarian aid organizations, operating in the DPRK, are concerned that strict enforcement of international sanctions has occasionally impeded the delivery of legitimate humanitarian assistance to the Korean people,” Biegun said.
“We will also review American citizen travel to DPRK for purposes of facilitating the delivery of aid and ensuring that monitoring in line with international standards can occur. I want to be clear — the United States and the United Nations will continue to closely review requests for exemptions and licenses for the delivery of assistance to the DPRK,” he added.
Biegun also said that America now has “greater confidence about the safety and security of Americans traveling to the DPRK” following the release of a citizen who had been detained for entering the country illegally.
Commenting on this particular incident, Biegun stated, “The government of the DPRK handled the review of the American citizen’s expulsion expeditiously and with great discretion and sensitivity through diplomatic channels.”
A ban on all travel to the DPRK was enacted following the death of college student Otto Warmbier in 2017. The review of the ban takes place amid ongoing nuclear diplomacy on the Korean peninsula.
Biegun confirmed that he will be speaking to humanitarian organizations in the new year to determine how America could “better ensure the delivery of appropriate assistance, particularly, through the course of the coming winter.”