US citizens travelling to North Korea should draft will and plan funeral, warns State Department

US citizens travelling to North Korea should draft will and plan funeral, warns State Department

Americans wanting to travel to North Korea should make preparations for their death, the United States Department of State has warned.

In updated travel information issued last week, the State Department advised US citizens to draft a will, plan their funeral and make arrangements for the care of their children and pets if they wish to visit the rogue state.

US travellers need to apply for special validation from the department “due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of US nationals.”

Tourists were banned from visiting the country without special validations following the death of US student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested while on holiday and sentenced to 15 years of hard labour. Mr Warmbier was subsequently released last June and died days after returning to the US in a coma. 

North Korea is listed as a “Level 4 – Do not travel” country, alongside Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Yemen

The department said those who receive a special validation to travel to the isolated nation should “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney” and “discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.”

At least 16 US citizens have been detained by the authoritarian state over the last 10 years.

Those violating its laws could be “held in isolation without charges for lengthy periods of time,” “interrogated,” “compelled to draft public confessions” and “sent to a labour camp for years”.

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The department said it is unable to provide emergency services to US citizens because it does not have an embassy in the hermit kingdom. 

Instead, it relies on Sweden to act as the protecting power, but cautions: “The North Korean government routinely delays or denies Swedish officials access to detained US citizens.”

Last year, Donald Trump declared the US had designated North Korea a state sponsor of terror, adding the country to the list with Iran, Syria and Sudan. 

The US President said he made the decision because Pyongyang’s “murderous regime” had assassinated Kim Jong-un‘s estranged half-brother in Malaysia and “tortured Otto Warmbier, ultimately leading to that fine young man’s death.”

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