US travel advisory says organise will and funeral

US student Otto Frederick Warmbier was arrested for committing hostile acts against North Korea, and mysteriously died after returning home. Photo: AFP/KCNA

US citizens wanting to visit North Korea have been advised to write a will, make funeral arrangements and choose guardians their children and pets, a chilling travel advisory from the State Department has urged.

The travel advice comes on the back of new rules issued last year that now require Americans to apply for a special validation to travel to the hermit state, which is only handed out in “very limited circumstances.”

The travel ban was enforced following the mysterious death of American student Otto Warmbier, 22, who was arrested by North Korean officials while on holiday and sentenced to 15 years hard labour. He returned home June last year with severe brain damage and died.

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The US state department warns emergency assistance would not be available to citizens because it doesn’t have an embassy in the country.

“Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney; discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pet, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc),” the recommendation said.

It appears the seemingly pleasant relations between North and South Korea, who have met twice in the past week for the first time in over two years, did little to affect the US’ stance on the hermit kingdom, if the chilling travel advisory is anything to go by.

Tensions have been high between the US and North Korea after the North staged a flurry of nuclear and missile tests, and Kim Jong-un traded threats of war and personal attacks with Trump.

But in recent weeks there has been an apparent rapprochement, with Pyongyang agreeing to send athletes to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The North restored a military hotline and agreed to participate in the Winter Olympics being hosted in February by the South, a close US ally.

President Trump has also signalled openness to talks with North Korea under the right circumstances.

Despite the insults and bloodcurdling threats he’s traded with Kim Jong-un, he suggested in an interview that the two leaders could have a positive relationship.

But Kim, widely viewed as seeking to drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea, shows no sign of making concessions toward Washington as his totalitarian government comes close to perfecting a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the United States.

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