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Travel Warning: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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Consular Affairs issued a Travel Warning for the DPRK (North Korea) on September 11.  It reads as follows:

Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of

September 11, 2012

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens about travel to North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK). The North Korean government will detain, prosecute, and sentence anyone who enters the DPRK without first having received explicit, official permission and an entry visa from its government. Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizens crossing into North Korea, even accidentally, have been subject to arrest and long-term detention. Since January 2009, four U.S. citizens have been arrested for entering North Korea illegally. In 2010, a fifth U.S. citizen, who had a valid DPRK visa in his U.S. passport, was arrested inside North Korea on unspecified charges. This replaces the Travel Warning for North Korea dated November 3, 2011, to remind US citizens about the risks involved in traveling to the DPRK.

The Government of North Korea imposes heavy fines and long prison sentences with hard labor on persons who enter the country without a valid passport and a North Korean visa. If you travel unescorted inside North Korea without explicit official authorization, North Korean security personnel may view your actions as espionage.

Security personnel may view any unauthorized attempt you make to talk to a North Korean citizen as espionage. North Korean authorities may fine or arrest you for unauthorized currency transactions 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 current leader, Kim Jong Un. North Korean authorities have threatened foreign journalists who questioned the policies or public statements of the DPRK or the actions of the current leadership.

North Korean government authorities may also view taking unauthorized pictures as espionage, confiscate cameras and film and/or detain the photographer. DPRK border officials routinely confiscate visitors’ mobile phones upon arrival, returning the phones only upon departure. Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside the DPRK, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and political activities, engaging in unauthorized travel, or interaction with the local population.

The United States and the DPRK do not have diplomatic and consular relations. Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, the U.S. government cannot provide normal consular services to its citizens in North Korea. The Swedish Embassy, 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. However, the Protecting Power cannot get U.S. citizens out of jail or pay their criminal fines.

U.S. citizens who plan to travel to North Korea are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China about their trip by enrolling in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you have received official permission and are going to visit North Korea by transiting China, please take the time to tell the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, about your trip. If you check in, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrollment also makes it easier for friends and family to get in touch with you in an emergency via the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

China residents can contact U.S. Embassy Beijing directly:

U. S. Embassy Beijing: The Embassy is located next to the Ladies’ Street (Nuren Jie) and Laitai Flower Market, opposite the Kempinski Hotel and Lufthansa shopping Center on Tianze Road near the Liangmaqiao subway stop.

U.S. Embassy Beijing
American Citizens Services Unit
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone: (86-10) 8531-4000
Facsimile: (86-10) 8531-3300
Email: amcitbeijing@state.gov
Emergency after-hours telephone: (86-10) 8531-4000

You are also strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy of Sweden by telephone or email about your trip. Please provide the Protecting Power with your name, date of birth, dates of your trip, and emergency contact information:

The Embassy of Sweden Pyongyang (U.S. Protecting Power) in North Korea.
Munsu-Dong District
Pyongyang, DPRK
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 485 (reception)
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 904, (850-2) 3817 907 (Second Secretary)
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 908, (850-2) 3817 905 (Ambassador)
Facsimile: (850-2) 3817 663
Email: ambassaden.pyongyang@foreign.ministry.se

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for North Korea, and the current Worldwide Caution, which are located on the Department’s Internet travel website. U.S. citizens can obtain current information on safety and security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada, +1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market to have travel information at your fingertips.

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