Travel Alert – North Korea – Instability

The U.S. Department of State has issued this latest warning for U.S. Citizens traveling in to the country of North Korea.  This information is available to GeoBlue plan members from the GeoBlue website daily…

Travel Warning Issued for North Korea

Category: Instability

Severity: 3 (Moderate)

Source: U.S. Department of State

05/21/2014 (North Korea) – The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK). This replaces the Travel Warning for North Korea of November 19, 2013, to update information on the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens in North Korea.

Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizen tourists have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention. North Korean authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who entered the DPRK legally on valid DPRK visas as well as U.S. citizens who accidentally crossed into DPRK territory. The Department of State has also received reports of DPRK authorities arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens without charges and not allowing them to depart the country. In the past 18 months, North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours. Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not succeeded in gaining their release.

The Government of North Korea has detained, arrested, and imposed heavy fines on persons who violated DPRK laws, such as entering the country illegally or attempting to contact private DPRK citizens without government authorization. Travelers to North Korea must enter the DPRK with a valid passport and valid DPRK visa. Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside North Korea, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and/or political activities (whether those activities took place inside or outside North Korea), unauthorized travel, or unauthorized interaction with the local population.

North Korean security personnel may regard as espionage unauthorized or unescorted travel inside North Korea and unauthorized attempts to speak directly to North Korean citizens. North Korean authorities may fine or arrest travelers for exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor, for taking unauthorized photographs, or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners. It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country’s former leaders, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, or to the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

If DPRK authorities permit you to keep your cell phone upon entry into the country, please keep in mind that you have no right to privacy in North Korea and should assume your communications are monitored. It is a criminal act to bring printed or electronic media criticizing the DPRK government into the country. If you bring electronic media, including USB drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or laptops, into the country, you must assume that North Korean authorities will review the information on those devices. Please be sure that the information contained on those devices does not violate the laws or regulations of the DPRK, as penalties for knowingly or unknowingly violating North Korea’s laws are much harsher than U.S. penalties for similar offenses. Sentences for crimes can include years of detention in hard labor camps or death.

Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with the DPRK, the U.S. government has no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea. The Embassy of Sweden, the U.S. Protecting Power in the DPRK capital of Pyongyang, provides limited consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea who are ill, injured, arrested, or who have died while there. The U.S.-DPRK Interim Consular Agreement provides that North Korea will notify the Embassy of Sweden within four days of an arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen and will allow consular visits by the Swedish Embassy within two days after a request is made. However, the DPRK government routinely delays or denies consular access.

Copyright © 2014 U.S. Department of State

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About Timothy Jennings
Based in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I have worked in both the Domestic and International markets for most of my adult life. During the past four years the United States has seen a complete change in direction when it comes to accessing health care and obtaining mandated health insurance coverage. I have been an agent selling in the U.S. markets for more than 30 years. Today I work exclusively serving the needs of our International health insurance clients. If you are outbound or inbound to the United States I can help guide you through the process of selecting proper International Cover that is right for your family.

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