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June 3rd, 2009
04:57 PM ET

A look at North Korean law for U.S. travelers

North Korean leader Kim Jong-II
North Korean leader Kim Jong-II

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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Filed under: 360° Radar • North Korea
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. rachelroh

    Ditto Spelunker!!!
    Koss is no mere cameraman.
    A 25-year-ol Anderson Cooper and Mitch Koss worked together way back in '94. Lisa worked closely with Koss for years on stories filed from all the hotspots around the globe. Who is Mitchell Koss and why isn't he talking?
    We've left messages for Mitch several times. No response.
    Anderson was in L.A. yesterday with Lisa. Maybe they stopped by Mitch's home? If there's anyone who could elicit a comment it would be them.
    I'm on hold.
    Rachel Roh
    epicanthus.net

    June 3, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  2. Spelunker

    Espionage, eh? Bad news for Euna Lee, whose parents live in South Korea according to what we heard from her husband on Larry King's show. What a terrible thing to happen on her first overseas assignment with Current TV!
    Speaking of Current TV, have we heard from Mitch Koss yet? The Christian Science Monitor finally called him out today in an excellent article by correspondent Donald Kirk.
    If you do a Google news search for "Mitch Koss", then you will see that in the last month only media in Vietnam and Portugal have mentioned his name until today's CSM article.
    Just a few hours before the trial (and counting!) for eyewitness Mitch Koss to clarify once and for all what really happened at the Tumen River border area on March 17. What was the intent of the 3 reporters with regard to approaching the border? How far were they planning on going beyond China's shore of the Tumen River? If Anderson Cooper doesn't get the world exclusive truth from Mitch or Lisa Ling on his show, then we all must wait for North Korea's version of events when their espionage law is enforced in Pyongyang's court later tonight.

    June 3, 2009 at 5:17 pm |