October 23, 2021

Renewal of North Korea travel ban: A missed opportunity for DPRK-US diplomacy?

Ending the Trump-era travel ban would have been consistent with many stated US goals, despite some diplomatic risks

Last week, the U.S. State Department renewed a Donald Trump-era travel ban to North Korea for the fifth year running. Citing danger to American citizens of “serious arrest” should they travel to the DPRK, Washington justified the extension on the basis that risk levels have not fundamentally changed since it first imposed the travel restriction. 

While many expected the renewal of the travel ban, suspending it would have been consistent with many pillars of the Joe Biden administration’s stated North Korea policy. It would also have shown those in the U.S. pro-engagement community that Washington is keen on facilitating a new direction on DPRK issues.