United States citizens should make preparations for the possibility of dying during authorized trips to North Korea, an updated Department of State travel advisory about the country said on Friday.
The new advice mirrors language that the state department uses about the apparently high risks U.S. citizens face if they travel to countries like Iran, Iraq, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia and Libya.
“Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney,” the advisory warns people who receive validation to travel to North Korea.
“Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.”
The advice is due to the “serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals,” the department said, a risk that means the passports of U.S. citizens have since last year no longer been valid for use in North Korea.
The change follows the June 2016 death of U.S. citizen Otto Warmbier after his detention in North Korea, as well as a string of arrests of U.S. nationals there in recent years.
“(This) seems like domestic-focused PR,” said one U.S. visitor to the North, who asked for anonymity due to the current process involved in visiting the country.
“Any Americans left applying for a special passport understand where they’re going and the risks,” the source continued. “That very procedure reminds them of it.”
Following dozens of missile tests taking place in 2016 and 2017, the warning also included language surrounding the dangers involved in flying near North Korea.
“Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of North Korea, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR).”
While several airlines reported their planes flew in airspace within range of recent North Korean missile launches, to date no aircraft have been damaged by such tests and one analyst described the risks as being “infinitesimally low“.
Still, because dangers do exist some airlines did change their routings as a result of DPRK missile testing in 2017.
“Any fragment of reasonable size hitting a tailplane, wing, or engine at 500 knots creates a significant risk of loss of control of the aircraft,” a memo from Flight Service Bureau read last year.
Featured image: Public Domain pictures, NK News edit
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