The US State Department’s ban on American travel to North Korea will go into effect today. The measure comes after the death of college student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned for 17 months in the DPRK.
Journalists, aid workers and anyone whose visitation “is otherwise in the national interest” of the US are exempt from the ban. While initially claiming that it didn’t “care a bit”, North Korea has since condemned the measure, claiming that it heightens tensions and increases adversarial tendencies between the two states.
In the eyes of the US government, Americans travelling to North Korea serve as liabilities. Kim Jong Un restricts the diplomatic moves that the US can make by forcing them to continually negotiate the release of hostages. The strategy also gives the North airtime, which it can use to antagonise the American public and pressure the US government into giving concessions.
The ban weakens the Kim regime’s diplomatic toolbox, especially as it concerns lessening international sanctions. This could prompt the DPRK to adopt brasher actions, such as heightened missile testing and other displays of military might, to garner global concessions.
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Max is Foreign Brief's Chief Executive Officer. A Latin America specialist, Max is an expert in regional political and economic trends, focusing particularly on the Southern Cone.