Meanwhile, three U.S. citizens are stuck in North Korean jail cells.
Image via Alex Steffler/Wikimedia Commons.
In response to the United States’ North Korea travel ban, North Korean officials have extended an open invitation to American tourists looking to “see the realities with their own eyes.” According to Newsweek, a spokesperson from the North Korean foreign ministry released a statement to a local news outlet (aka the only news source in the country, which also happens to be overseen by the state) that Americans should have no fear visiting North Korea. Apparently, this anonymous spokesperson was quoted saying, “There isn't any reason for the foreigners to feel threat to their safety in the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] which has the most stable and strong state system, and numerous foreigners including Americans who visited our country unanimously agree on this.”
This past June, 22-year-old American tourist Otto Warmbier came back to the States after spending more than a year in a North Korean prison. According to the New York Times, he was detained for attempting to take a propaganda poster back to the U.S. — deemed a “hostile act” by North Korean officials — and received a 15-year sentence of manual labor as a result. Upon being evacuated in June, humanitarian aid workers realized the University of Virginia student was in a coma and had been for a full year prior. He died shortly after arriving back to the U.S. The incident spurred the U.S.’s travel ban.
According to Newsweek, three Americans — professor Tony Kim, professor Kim Hak-song, and businessman Kim Dong-chul — are all still stuck in North Korean jail cells. There are also many other reasons to suggest North Korea is not the “most stable and strong state system,” but that is neither here nor there. By and large, traveling to a secretive dictatorship currently arming itself with hydrogen bombs capable of reaching the U.S. western seaboard is probably not a bright idea. And since this wouldn’t be the first time North Korea trolled Trump (with threats of testing long-range missiles no less), you’re better off passing on that plane ticket.