The State Department
Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States. Local laws also may not afford the protections available to U.S. citizens under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking local laws can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders often face long jail sentences and heavy fines.
North Korean security personnel may view unescorted travel inside North Korea by Americans who do not have explicit official authorization as espionage, especially when the U.S. citizens are originally from South Korea or are thought to understand the Korean language.
Security personnel may also view any attempt to engage in unauthorized conversations with a North Korean citizen as espionage. Foreigners are subject to fines or arrest for unauthorized currency transactions or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners. It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country's current and former leaders, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung, respectively. Foreign journalists have been threatened when questioning the policies or public statements of the DPRK or the actions of the current leadership.
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