For the last two years there has been a travel ban enacted on American citizens travelling to North Korea. Despite this, we still regularly get emails from Americans asking if they can visit North Korea – not dissimilar to the erstwhile US-Cuba situation. Alas, these two situations are very different.
American passports have been invalidated for travel to North Korea
Basically, the USA have made it illegal for anyone to use a US passport to visit North Korea. In short: if you use your US passport to visit North Korea then the US government could (and probably would) take your passport away from you. It is, however, worth nothing that the North Koreans have not banned Americans from visiting their country – the US has.
How is this different from Cuba?
Americans were previously banned from spending any money in Cuba, which constituted a de facto ban on visiting. Passports were never confiscated as a result of visiting Cuba; the worst that could happen was a fine. Granted, this fine could be pretty damned high.
So if I find a company willing to take me to North Korea I can go?
Technically, yes. That said, YPT is not prepared to assist a US national in committing a crime against their country, and we strongly recommend that you respect your government’s laws.
What if I’m a dual-national?
By the letter of the law, dual-nationals could use their non-US passport to enter North Korea. We strongly urge that you seek legal guidance if you are a US dual-national considering this step, however.
How about a day trip?
As the law stands there is no material difference between going for a day or going for a month.
In the meantime, we’d suggest our excellent Borderlands Part One Tour – you will never set foot on North Korean soil, but you will see far more than travelling along the South Korean border with the North!.