February 25, 2024

Why despite recent arrests, there are few risks in traveling to North Korea

Proselytizing and immigration offences principal reasons foreigners arrested in North Korea

The recent arrest and expected trial of two American tourists – Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Fowle – has once again raised much fear among the few Americans, and broadly speaking Westerners, who are considering a trip to the Hermit Kingdom. As a matter of fact, I have received a number of letters from people who managed to locate my not exactly widely advertised email address, inquiring about whether they should cancel their trips.

I do feel somewhat uncomfortable about giving advice on such matters, especially because the cost of being wrong could be quite high. Nonetheless, I still advised those who wrote to me that risks were negligible and that they should still go, so long as they still wished to. Of course, I had to add that they should remain cautious and be sure not to break the many regulations the North Korean government imposes, even if such regulations appear silly.