US to Bar its Citizens from Travel to North Korea: What Comes Next?

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as scribbles occasional travel pieces for The National.

The State Department has announced plans to ban US citizens from visiting North Korea, according to the BBC, North Korea tourism: US to ban Americans from visiting.

Details of the ban will be published in the Federal Register next week and will take effect thirty days thereafter.

Once the ban is implemented, US travellers who with to visit North Korea will require special validation of their passports; those who flout the restrictions face potential penalties of up to ten years in prison.

Since the 1980s,  the US has used Geographical Travel Restrictions (GTRs) to restrict travel to various Middle Eastern countries, as well as to Cuba between 1963 and 1977, as NBC reported in State Department Announces Ban on Tourist Travel to North Korea. In addition, during the height of the Cold War US citizens were barred– at least in theory– from travelling to many  Communist countries.

As The Washington Post reported in North Korean travel ban marks return to Cold War-era restrictions on U.S. citizens abroad:

“The safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas is one of our highest priorities,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said late Friday morning as the ban was announced. “Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, [Secretary of State Rex Tillerson] has authorized a Geographical Travel Restriction on all U.S. citizen nationals’ use of a passport to travel in, through, or to North Korea.”

Peter Spiro, the Charles Weiner chair in international law at Temple University, said such a policy would be a revival of “area restrictions” that were common during the mid-20th century.

“At various points, Americans were barred from traveling to various communist countries during the Cold War,” Spiro said in an email, noting that the practice went back as far as the 1920s.

Currently, about 5000 foreign tourists visit North Korea each year on group tours. About 800 of these are Americans.

Is a US Government Ban on Travel to Specific Countries Constitutional?

The United States Supreme Court in the 1965 case of  Zemel v. Rusk upheld a ban on US citizens visiting Cuba, on the basis of national security grounds. This case is still good law. The Court declined to find a constitutional right to international travel, and it also rejected a general First Amendment challenge to an area restriction, according to Professor Spiro in the Washington Post account cited above.

Chief Justice Earl Warren drafted the majority opinion, which determined that to be constitutionally permissible, the ban must be non-discriminatory– and apply to all citizens and not be directed at any particular traveller on the basis of political views she may hold, or for other specific reasons. The case includes an extended discussion of the history of country bans the US had imposed on the its citizens (as of the decision’s 1965 date) (pp. 8-11).

I hadn’t looked at this case since law school. Yet what I found most interesting when I read the opinion again today was that three justices, Hugo Black, William Douglas, and Arthur Goldberg wrote individual dissents, in which each set out his reasons for striking down the ban.

Well, all I can say about the Supreme Court is that we’ve come a long way, baby– but not in  the right direction. Moreover, I think it highly unlikely that the current Supreme Court would even elect to hear a case on the North Korean ban, let alone strike down the restrictions.

Practically speaking, enforcing such a ban is more difficult– especially if the country the US citizen wants to visit is willing to play ball, by not stamping the visitor’s passport. “Americans who violate the ban could be prosecuted, though a state department official said prosecutions for that crime were rare,” The Guardian quoted an anonymous State Department official as saying in US to ban citizens from travel to North Korea after Otto Warmbier’s death.

That could of course all change under Trump’s Department of Justice. The same Guardian account mentioned that the new administration intends to tighten travel restrictions on Cuba (relying on different statutory than the North Korea GTR) — a subject I previously posted on in Trump Cuba Policy Reversal: More Sound and Fury, Signifying…. No Mucho.  And the tightening of security protocols, as well as enhanced surveillance and monitoring may make it much easier for the US government to target and prosecute violations if prosecutors chose to go that route.

North Korea Travel Ban Might Seem Sensible, But…

Now, even I, an intrepid and frequent traveller think it would not be sensible for any US citizen travelling on a US passport to try and visit North Korea at this time– especially as the current situation could at any time become a very hot conflict.

I am more worried, however, about reviving the Cold War protocol under which the United States tried to restrict travel to certain countries. Once the State Department gets back into the practice of regularly telling US citizens where they’re forbidden to  travel, where will this practice stop?

Let me outline a couple of reasons I find this practice problematic.

First, I’m not alone in saying that I object to many, many elements of US foreign policy. I don’t want my activities– nor my ability to form an opinion about a place–  thwarted by some misguided travel ban– whether it’s put in place by a Trump official or a future US government functionary.  Today, it’s  North Korea, yet tomorrow who knows what countries may be subject to similar bans.

I’m particularly concerned as I know that the State Department’s system for alerting and warning travellers about visiting certain countries has long been notorious among frequent travellers for misinformation.  The system is very much distorted by US political considerations, and is infected with false negatives–  sometimes steering travellers away from perfectly safe venues, if their governments don’t hew to a US line– and false positives– such as failing to mention major concerns about visiting countries that are close allies.  The warnings look particularly ludicrous when one considers that the US baseline from which many US travellers start from is considerably less safe than the status quo in many of targeted countries. Meaning that even though the dangers the State Department warns about may indeed exist, they may be less of a threat than the conditions the traveler might have faced by electing to remain at home in the US. Those of us who want to get sound information on safety and security issues find the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office site to be a much more accurate site (although I am not so naive as to claim that its advice, too, is not distorted by some political shading.)

Allow me to indulge in a brief quotation from Justice Arthur Goldberg’s dissent in the Zemel case (p. 29):

…As nations have become politically and commercially more dependent upon one another and foreign policy decisions have come to have greater impact upon the lives of our citizens, the right to travel has become correspondingly more important. Through travel, by private citizens as well as by journalists and governmental officials, information necessary to the making of informed decisions can be obtained. And, under our constitutional system, ultimate responsibility for the making of informed decisions rests in the hands of the people. As Professor Chafee has pointed out,

An American who has crossed the ocean is not obliged to form his opinions about our foreign policy merely from what he is told by officials of our government or by a few correspondents of American newspapers. Moreover, his views on domestic questions are enriched by seeing how foreigners are trying to solve similar problems. In many different ways, direct contact with other countries contributes to sounder decisions at home. Chafee, Three Human Rights in the Constitution of 1787, 195-196 (1956).

I’m especially aware of the problem today, as happen to be writing this while visiting Vietnam.  At the moment, I’m in the northern part of the country– northwest of Hanoi, in the hill country town of Sa Pa, to be more precise. During what the Vietnamese call the American War (to distinguish it from the French War that occurred a couple of decades before), peace activists and journalists travelled to North Vietnam.  These visits helped make people in the United States understand what was happening here, during the war years.

Second, even if I were in complete accord with all and every element of US foreign policy, I think it’s still extremely foolhardy for the government to ban contact with countries. Allow me to quote from Justice Douglas’s dissent in the Zemel case mentioned above (pp. 25-26):

I agree that there are areas to which Congress can restrict or ban travel. Pestilences may rage in a region, making it necessary to protect not only the traveler but those he might infect on his return. A theatre of war may be too dangerous for travel. Other like situations can be put. But the only so-called danger present here is the Communist regime in Cuba. The world, however, is filled with Communist thought, and Communist regimes are on more than one continent. They are part of the world spectrum, and if we are to know them and understand them, we must mingle with them, as Pope John said. Keeping alive intellectual intercourse between opposing groups has always been important, and perhaps was never more important than now.

The First Amendment presupposes a mature people, not afraid of ideas. The First Amendment leaves no room for the official, whether truculent or benign, to say nay or yea because the ideas offend or please him or because he believes some political objective is served by keeping the citizen at home or letting him go. Yet that is just what the Court’s decision today allows to happen. We have here no congressional determination that Cuba is an area from which our national security demands that Americans be excluded. Nor do we have a congressional authorization of the Executive to make such a determination according to standards fixed by Congress. Rather, we have only the claim that Congress has painted with such a “broad brush” that the State Department can ban travel to Cuba simply because it is pleased to do so. By permitting this, the Court ignores the “familiar and basic principle,” Aptheker v. Secretary of State, supra, at 508, that a governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not he achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly, and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms.

Bottom Line

Today, the ban targets North Korea. Tomorrow: Nobody knows.  Now while staying clear of North Korea at the moment may be perfectly sensible, as for the future, and for the rest of the world, that just isn’t sound advice. And in Washington’s New Cold War atmosphere, I think there will be more, rather than less, pressure exerted to avoid outright people, places, and ideas. And this at a time that it seems to me what’s needed is more, rather than less, contact, empathy, an effort at understanding the other side’s position.

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  1. oaf

    Is it to deter those who would go see for themselves from possibly spreading *disinformation* relative to the official propaganda? Or perhaps punishment for those seeking a common thread of humanity among *the enemy*?

  2. JTMcPhee

    Grade-school grammar is way in my past. I am curious about the use of “its” in the phrase “US to bar its citizens from travel to North Korea…” Is it the possessive form, as in “citizens are owned by US,” or just an identifier thingie?

    Also query another world: I seem to recall having seen the word “citizen” at some point in the distant past. Any idea what it means?

    Also I seem to recall that the minions and rulers of the “US Empire” no longer regards or respects nations or national boundaries as meaningful categories, for most purposes — why so much angst about mopes traipsing off to Pyongyang or Chongjin? Seems like more Much Ado about Nothing… /s

    1. RepubAnon

      “It’s” is an abbreviation of “it is” – thus spake the apostrophe police.

      Interesting that the Republicans complain about the “nanny state” when discussing safety regulations which might impact corporate profits, but impose a travel ban on North Korea to protect US citizens. One could suspect that the Trump Administration is more concerned about the impact on Trump’s tough-guy image of US citizens being arrested and held by North Korea than he is about the citizens themselves.

  3. Bill Smith

    Vietnam… the times I have traveled there I heard it called the War of American Aggression.

    Have you been to Ha Long Bay? I spent a few days on one of the boats there a few months ago. Very pretty.

    I liked when traveling into Albania in the 1990’s the State Department would put people up in a hotel that was located in a part of the capital – where during the arrival briefing it was pointed out that we where supposed to go into that part of the capital.

  4. optimader

    If you’re stupid enough to travel to NK by all means you should be able to go, but with the understanding that any US State Dept support to fetch you is suspended.

    1. RUKidding

      That’s mostly how I feel. One runs a risk traveling to NK. I disagree w travel bans & harsh punitive punishments bc thin edge of the wedge. However if you run into trouble there, perhaps State Dept help should come at a cost. I can see discouraging travel there but not banning outright.

      1. different clue

        For places like North Korea and Iran, which have proven that they consider Americans to be lucrative hostages worth taking and holding, the proper approach would be a pre-emptive washing-of-the-hands. Anyone American wanting to travel to Iran or North Korea for any reason should be told that if they are judicially kidnapped and held judicial hostage, that precisely zero effort will be made on their behalf; and that in fact precisely zero fukkz will be given.

        1. different clue

          And actually, of course, that concept should be extended to countries where free-lance groups take tourists hostage for fun and profit. Such countries should be listed and any American seeking to travel there should be advised that they go at their own risk, government will make zero effort to help them or get them back, and no phuxx will be given on their behalf.

        2. ToivoSt

          Travel to Iran is not dangerous for Americans and it hasn’t been for the last 30 years. The biggest danger is being penalized by the US government.

        3. EoinW

          Travel to Iran? How can you possibly lump Iran in with North Korea? Only neocons do that and we know why. Iran is one of only three democracies in the Middle East. Considering what’s happening in Turkey and how Israel’s “Jewish democracy” looks to disenfranchise 20% of its population, then Iran actually has the healthiest democracy in the region.

          1. different clue

            “Who is more Democratic in the Middle East” and “are Americans safe to go somewhere” are two separate questions. A facile accusation of “neo-conservatism” against people who question the safety of Americans going to Iran and the safety-to-America of letting them go there is the sort of half-fast thinking which yields half-fast results.

            Iran has taken several Americans judicial-hostage as bargaining chips and ransom-extortion objects. Both dual Iran-America citizens and several random hikers who wandered over a mountain border in Kurdistan.

            The propensity of Iran to take and hold American hostages for blackmail-extortion purposes is a fact whether one admits to it or not. And as I said in prior comments, we should no more ban Americans from traveling to Iran then we should ban them from travelling to North Korea. What we SHOULD do, in BOTH cases, and any OTHER case where Americans are subject to kidnapping for ransom or recreational torture-murder . . . is to declare that any American who goes to these places will receive zero protection or concern from the US government if anything bad happens to any unlucky unwise American who travels to an “at your own risk” destination.

    1. Mike G

      Doubtful. There were something like 800 US visitors last year, so the number in-country at any time is tiny, and of course there are no US corporate investments there. This is probably the State Department (or their Swedish proxies) getting tired of having to negotiate Americans out of jail, and whatever they have to give away to NK to get them released.

    2. TheCatSaid

      Sadly what comes to my mind is Venezuela, not NK. I heard just tonight that the US is making preparation to undertake a coup in Venezuela (since the 2002 one didn’t work out). In the very near future (next few months). Most likely with weapons coming in from the Colombia side.

      Spare a thought for Venezuela, which sets fine examples in many ways, despite the disinformation to the contrary propagated in abundance.

      I hope the Venezuelan citizens will be as awake and responsive as those in Turkey a year ago.

  5. Louis Fyne

    meh, banning NK travel is no different than `no swimming` in an area known for riptides.

    in this case it is not unreasonable. A Cuba travel ban would be in the gray area.

      1. optimader

        I doubt that even in the US you get ten years jail for reckless swimming.
        ..or if your stupid enough to go to NK?

        Oh delicious! a 12yo can of cream corn for breakfast/lunch/dinner! MMMM..Are all the cans puffy like this??

        Go for the State Theatre, stay for the prison cuisine!.. Cry at your press conference for the SDept to fetch you :o/

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Maybe I’m too young to get all this hate over NK?

          Wtf is ur problem with North Korea ??, OPT?

          Their citizens are ordinary workers just like in America.

  6. MoiAussie

    and is infected with false negatives– sometimes steering travellers away from perfectly safe venues, if their governments don’t hew to a US line– and false negatives– such as failing to mention major concerns about visiting countries that are close allies.

    One suspects one of these should be positives. Or rather sins of commission and sins of omission.

    1. Jeff W

      Well, the first one would seem to be a false positive (i.e., a country is incorrectly characterized as having the condition of being unsafe when it is not). The second would seem to be a false negative (i.e., the country is incorrectly characterized, perhaps by omission, as not having the condition of being unsafe when it, in fact, does).

    2. Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author

      Fixed it! Thanks for pointing out my error. I swapped some things around whilst editing and didn’t notice the mistake.

  7. Hubert Horan

    Hi Jerri Lynn
    I’ve been to North Korea twice—for four days in 2010 and a longer 2014 trip that included a chartered train trip around the country. Although obviously not to most people’s tastes, but I always appreciated the chance to see very different societies/systems with my own eyes (USSR/Eastern Europe in the 70s/80s, South Africa under apartheid, most of the Middle East and the Stans, my first trip to China was 1982).
    Yes, the North Korea travel ban is totally pointless. It feeds the State Department’s need to issue a press release saying “Look we are taking decisive action to deal with the increasing tensions with North Korea!” and the mainstream media’s desire to run a “Tensions with North Korea remain really serious” without having to explain the actual basis of those tensions or to explain what the decisive actions will accomplish.
    Given the freedom to travel, very few Americans have any desire to visit North Korea; in a good year they get about 10,000 non-Chinese tourists and only a small portion are Americans. Likewise very few American have any great desire to visit Burkina Faso or Tajikistan, but one of the advantages of freedom of travel is that you have some base of people who understanding of current conditions exceeds the level of total ignorance and obliviousness. With limited or no travel, when issues arise you get press coverage based on total ignorance and obliviousness.
    One of the complications with North Korea is that one of the sources of travel demand is the portion of the evangelical Christian world that sees conversions of heathen Communists as one of their missions in life. The North Koreans are totally paranoid about these folks, not because there is any risk that isolated missionaries could bring religion to a country of 25 million people, but because they know these peoples “calling” will get them to do annoyingly stupid things. There have been 10-15 Americans arrested by the North Koreans in the past decade; most were evangelicals (although the one that recently died was not). One of them was taken into custody while standing next to me in the departure hall at Pyongyang airport; he had brought a box of Bibles with English and Korean text and tried to leave them where locals could “discover them”. The stupidity here wasn’t just the English text, but he was leaving them in places strictly limited to trustworthy officials, including the military guesthouse where we were put up for the night (in a provincial town that didn’t have a hotel). When he returned to Ohio after 18 months in prison, he only got his job back after signing papers promising never to do anything that stupid again.
    By banning travel to North Korea, the only thing accomplished is that they might not have to do as much work to get these people out of jail (a number of the arrested evangelicals had entered North Korea illegally, and wouldn’t have been deterred by this ban). Once arrested, the North Koreans have used them as pawns to extract some type of leverage (a Hillary Clinton visit in one case). Nothing here is intended as a defense of the North Koreans or to suggest that the evangelical’s dislike of North Korean society is misplaced. But utterly pointless symbolic gestures only make things worse. A member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards might sincerely believe that Americans are the spawn of Satan, but if he spray paints that thought onto the side of the Lincoln Memorial, he’s going to get arrested and he won’t get anyone to consider his view of the world.

    1. grayslady

      My first thought upon reading about the ban was that we were actually doing the North Koreans a favor. I consider religious missionaries to be on a par with a plague of locusts. Maybe Kim Jong-Un will send Trump a thank-you note.

    2. eD

      OK, then just ban US citizens who are believing Christians from traveling to North Korea. Problem solved.

    3. TheCatSaid

      While I’ve never traveled to North Korea recent reports about lifestyle differ greatly than what we’re told by the media.

      I have found my travels to have provided me with so a broader perspective on countless issues. Seeing conflict zones with my own eyes, or seeing countries involved in a peace process and the corporate looters are already showing up. First-hand experience of a “failed state”. First-hand experience of Soviet era life and conditions, and the impact on how people behaved, and the differences now (for better and for worse).

      It’s short-sighted to ban travel to NK. It sends the wrong signal if the goal is to develop greater understanding and a more harmonious geopolitical environment. I agree with you about the perceptions that will be generated, but as to any deeper-level strategic goals I can’t imagine what they might be.

  8. hiho

    Opression and tirany are the price you have to pay to live in the land of liberty.

    Yes, it is sarcasm.

  9. Thuto

    The US, along with Canada, New Zealand, UK and Switzerland recently withdrew their youth athletes from the recently held global under-18 athletics championships in Nairobi, Kenya. The reason given was ostensibly about security, as Kenya is considered by the US state department a “critical” level threat (its highest security threat classification) for US citizens travelling there, who, according to the same state department, would subject themselves to risks including theft, personal injury and possible terrorist attacks (in other words risks that one would be subjected to travelling in any major European capital given today’s climate). As an African who lives on the continent and travels extensively, I can say without a doubt that at the moment I feel safer in Nairobi than I do in Paris or London. Although there were no withdrawals from the 2010 soccer world cup held in my country of South Africa, we saw in the years leading up to it many in the western press (primarily the anglo saxon countries) engaged in a concerted smear campaign designed to cast doubt on our ability to successfully host perhaps the largest global sporting event. British journalists even orchestrated an attempted breakin at the resort hosting the Portuguese team, supposedly to “expose” the laxity of security protocols. Disappointingly for the naysayers, SA hosted a world cup that for many was said to have surpassed that hosted by Germany four years earlier, and I remember seeing a Slovenian couple literally crying on tv saying how, if they had paid heed to what the mainstream press was saying, would have missed the best experience of their lives. The attendants of the recent athletics championships in Kenya, where over 150 nations were represented, shared the same sentiments as the Slovenian couple referenced above (the international athletics federation in fact declared the championships the best ever hosted anywhere for that age group). For many in Africa, the casting of doubt on the ability of these two nations to host major global events is just the latest in a long line of manifestations of afro-pessimism. I for one wait with baited breath to see if there will be any withdrawals or security warnings for the upcoming world athletics championships for senior athletes to be held in London shortly. Threats abound everywhere, not just in the countries the US doesn’t like. Some territories are in theory riskier than others but I’ve always found common sense, and not some politicised government issued travel warning, to be my first line of defense against any potential risks I face as a traveller.

  10. fajensen

    Next? Illegal to boycott Israel!? In fact, after the anti-boycott law, there should be another one, where to prove one is not boycotting deliberately, one must actually buy something from a list of non-boycott shops, countries, businesses, whatever.

  11. Knifecatcher

    Based on what I know about Cuba, what comes next is that North Korea becomes a much more popular destination for tourists from other countries who prefer not to have to deal with Americans while on vacation. A lot of my Canadian friends were seriously bummed when the Cuba travel sanctions were eased.

  12. Alex Morfesis

    North korea was an easy ban…no travel industry lobbyists crying to some congressional aides or foggy bottom types…no possibility in any reasonable time frame of some lost licensing opportunities for the
    725 krewe…boeing…airbus…cruise ship lines…hotel chains…tour companies…

    Direct dictatorships dont actually exist anymore…




    Freedom vs “freedoms”…

    As in “certain” freedoms glazed with a tangy bernaze sauce and sold to “consumers” who have unwittingly abdicated their complete “freedom” for the trappings of “freedoms”…

    Looking tough by sounding tough and talking tough certainly helps fill in the time between the commercials…

    The globalonyists need new stations to drone out cheap goods…china is fairly overcooked…cheap is getting less cheap…Bangladesh has non functioning electric grids disrupting any evil genius notions of replacing the middle kingdom…and cellphones have killed the notion of some poor bloke or blokette working in a sweaty shop for no real progress…youtube has probably killed off serfdom in the developing world…

    most of the globe has tenuous parliamentary coalition governments in need of not annoying “the rabble”…

    The cuban travel ban allowed florida and vegas to develop…fidel made a lot of money for his buddy francos mic friends…and “che”(ernie lynch, jr)…prince spaghetti day in boston…

    although there are many in the boca to key west corridor who live in fear of their overleveraged under capitalized playpen collapsing as Atlantic city has…it just reflects on their tenuous hold on prosperity…a free cuba will take 25 years to find its legs…

    But with bobo frykynyahoo trying to avoid a jail cell by starting trouble & muellers friends trying to negotiate a cease fire with trump…who knows what foolishness lurks in the minds of mammonites who give way too much credence to normally cycling events as the eclipse in a few weeks…

    May you live in interesting times is supposed to be a curse..but it might lead to a cure…and before anyone runs to be “corrective”…

    “better to be a dog in days of peace, than to be a human in times of war…”

    The oil peddler wins the queen of flowers…

  13. Scott

    According to the UN’s 1976 Covenant on Civil & Political Rights any individual has the right to leave their nation of born nationality. This right is supposedly codified in international law. Apparently enforcement was supposed to be possible.
    From what I understand there is great fear of diseased and ignorant North Koreans leaving North Korea for China.
    It is probably sensible for the US to prohibit individuals of US citizenship from visiting North Korea at this time, for they do represent useful pawns to be captured & used as leverage to get attention from the US by Kim YONG-un.
    However if the US is going to prohibit private individuals from visiting North Korea, such a prohibition ought be made with a plan for resumption of travel at some future date.
    Why? US individuals are subject to kidnapping by N. Korea. Where, In North Korea. by whom? The North Korean government. What would alter and end such a prohibition? I would prefer that it would become an issue not just of North Korean & US relations, but an issue of UN enforcement of international law.
    We as an international community need to look at the issue from the point of what people have the most distress as regards limits on individual movement.
    Those are the families separated by governments. However the international community can recognize the horror that is the separation of families one from another by governments & work to end such sad realities is to be a first focus of negotiations.
    Those negotiations ought be managed by Foreign Service professionals serving the common interests of all peoples, not just the US Empire.

    1. JTMcPhee

      What is this “international community” of which you speak? Is it like unto “democracy in America,” and so forth?

      1. fajensen

        The “international community” is the tribe of people I meet in the Luftwaffe Lounge and at conferences, many different hues, similar enough to me for polite conversation, which confuses those silly people at the top, who never see “the street”, to firmly believe that all people / tribes are reasonable and civilised.

  14. different clue

    It may be the start of an old Cold War Practice. But it may just be an effort to deny North Korea its future harvest of plump juicy Americans to take hostage or to torture to death in its labor camps or whatever else it pleases.

    If being “forbidden to go” is displeasing to the “sense of freedom” of some, then let’s apply Optimader’s solution. Any American stupid enough to go to North Korea should be permitted to go there, should be informed that they are no longer America’s problem, their family should be told that zero effort will be made on their future-hostage loved one’s behalf, and the stupid NorKor-bound American should be given a “pre-posthumous” Darwin Award.

    Any American stupid enough to go to North Korea, after what has been seen to happen, is too stupid to live. And those who are too stupid to live have no right to exist. And do not deserve to survive.

    So let them go to North Korea, if that pleases them. And let North Korea make their trip a One Way trip if that pleases the Norks.

  15. witters

    Could we have some data on North Korean policing practices – you know, the shootings, confiscations, torture, stun gunning, “plea bargained” sentencing levels, and so forth, and in a US comparative framework? Could we compare the prison population in the US and in Nth Korea? Could we ask that nice blond Australian woman what she… oh!

    1. different clue

      These are actually interesting and worthwhile questions. I doubt prospective foreign visitors have to be worried about being taken hostage by the Federal or State Governments, but they might want to weigh up the risks of more local-based dangers.

      I myself also wonder if Black Lives Matter has said anything about this particular police shooting. If they have, it would be nice to have a link to it offered by someone. One hates to think that this Australian woman’s life was not black enough to matter to the good people at Black Lives Matter.

      1. fajensen

        But, why bother wondering? If they did actually say something fairly reasonable it would not be widely reported, because only stupid, inflammatory stuff is “News”, so we won’t know. And, If they did the expected and said something unreasonable, it only confirms what we already suspect, adding zero information that is useful to us.

        Identity politics is incredible toxic. See: Rational people will adopt to the world as it is, not as it should be, and pretty soon “inflammatory” and “unreasonable” are the only carrier frequencies possible.

        In my opinion, BLM is mainly, whether by themselves or by “The Market Forces”, an internet tribal identity thing. Being a tribe means that one has to be distinct from all the other tribes, which then has the logical consequence that one can never have a “normalised” relationship and shared values with the other tribals because everyones identity is fully invested in Being Different and Special. So, we won’t agree on anything because agreeing on common causes makes us similar and weakens tribal identity.

        Diverting the peasants & pitchforks … is why our dear leaders are long multiculturalism!

  16. John

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the fact that tourists give the North Koreans foreign currency that is desperately needed by the regime to prop itself.

    Even if we should be constitutionally allowed to go there (I agree with the dissenting judges’ opinions), it’s morally reprehensible to do so.

    1. MoiAussie

      They don’t desperately need foreign currency, being quite adept at making it themselves.

      As for morally reprehensible to do so, you ought to read up on the true story of what the US did on the Korean peninsula from 1945 to 1953, then hang your head in shame and make a pilgrimage to Pyongyang to apologise for the skullduggery and war crimes of your countrymen.

  17. RMO

    So, because of the “mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement,” the U.S. government will prosecute and lock up in a federal penitentiary any of its citizens who return from a visit there? Oh yeah, that makes a LOT of sense.

    1. fajensen

      Insourcing, I think the word is. The North Koreans are not jailing enough US citizens so Uncle Sap takes the job back and show us how it’s done?

  18. ewmayer

    “The United States Supreme Court in the 1965 case of Zemel v. Rusk upheld a ban on US citizens visiting Cuba, on the basis of national security grounds. This case is still good law. The Court declined to find a constitutional right to international travel, and it also rejected a general First Amendment challenge to an area restriction, according to Professor Spiro in the Washington Post account cited above.”

    How does this comport with the Ninth Amendment, which “declares that the listing of individual rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not meant to be comprehensive; and that the other rights not specifically mentioned are retained by the people”?

    I.e. just because the Constitution does not specifically mention a right to travel internationally, just as it does not specifically mention a right to plant a vegetable garden in one’s backyard, how is it reasonable for SCOTUS to circumscribe one’s ability to do so on entirely hand-wavey national security” grounds in the absence of [a] a declared state of war between the US and NK, and [b] any specific indication that a given person’s engaging in such travel poses a national security risk? Sounds like another example of the magic-incantatory nature of the phrase “national security” as far our pols and courts are concerned. I.e. said incantation instantly and magically renders any context in which it is invoked by the PTB a Constitution-free zone, much like the one they’re trying to turn the US border into.

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