I Don't Like This One Bit

Next week, the Trump administration will reportedly announce a unilateral travel ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea.
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate there, said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later.

They were informed by the Swedish embassy, which conducts US affairs in the country.

US officials have confirmed the ban to US media and linked it to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier, but given no details on date or scope.
This is potentially a pointless provocation (although Kim Jong Un doesn't particularly want Americans visiting anyway), but, more importantly, it's a very concerning precedent: Warmbier's death is being used as a rationale for banning people from traveling to North Korea, when there is already a State Department caution for traveling there.

And if the motivation were genuinely just concern for citizens' safety, I'm not sure, at all, why this alarming punitive measure is part of the ban: "After the 30-day grace period [to allow tourists and humanitarian workers still in the country to leave] any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government."

This strikes me as the exploitation of a tragic situation in order to have an excuse to set a precedent for banning U.S. citizens' travel to other places.

Lest you imagine that's unjustifiable alarmism: "Associated Press news agency quoted US officials as saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to implement a 'geographical travel restriction' for North Korea, meaning the use of US passports to enter would be illegal."

I have long suspected that the Trump administration would eventually disallow foreign travel for average citizens. That is, that we simply won't be allowed to leave.

I fear that Trump's border wall, for example, on which he persists despite the fact that undocumented immigration from Mexico has significantly declined, is really less about keeping people out than it is about keeping people in.

And, last month, to little fanfare, the Trump administration reinstated some travel restrictions to Cuba (where it has never been illegal, full-stop, for U.S. citizens to visit, unlike this North Korea ban).

What it utterly unclear is what limitations this administration believes there are, if any, on its ability to issue executive orders defining additional "geographical travel restrictions."

Suffice it to say, this news is not reassuring.

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