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The real effects of banning Americans from North Korea

7 5 29

Sixty-four years after North Korea and the United States signed an armistice to suspend the Korean War, the U.S. State Department has forbidden American citizens from traveling to the hermit state. The notice was put in the federal register on August 2; it became effective on Friday.

The travel ban is a relatively easy picking among a platter of bad choices for President Donald Trump. The U.S. president has not yet elaborated on his warning to North Korea that “all options are on the table” after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan on Tuesday, but something like the travel curb could be a small sign of what is to come.

The restriction on visits to North Korea came about because over the last decade it has for various reasons detained around 15 U.S. citizens, all of whom have become bargaining chips and leverage for Pyongyang in its dealings with Washington. It’s a pattern that forces U.S. officials to expend resources, time and political capital to try to secure the release of these Americans.

Most tragically, in July Pyongyang returned one detainee – Michigan college student Otto Warmbier – in a coma. His death a few days later gave impetus to the State Department’s push for a travel ban. Separate from this initiative and before Warmbier’s death, a bipartisan-sponsored bill to stop Americans traveling to North Korea began wending its way through Congress. It is not clear yet what that will end up including or how this State Department ban will affect that legislation.

But what will the travel ban accomplish? Washington has three main goals: to prevent American visitors being used as bargaining chips by Pyongyang, to deny the........

© Japan Today