WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is co-sponsoring the bipartisan North Korea Travel Control Act [H.R. 2732], which would require the Treasury Department to issue regulations requiring a license for transactions related to travel to, from, and within North Korea by American citizens. It also provides that no licenses may be issued for tourist travel.
“North Korea is a totalitarian state sponsor of terror run by a madman willing to do anything to keep his power, including the brutal subjugation of his own people and the imprisonment and torture of foreigners – including Americans. Barring specially approved humanitarian missions, American citizens should not travel to North Korea,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Aside from Western visitors bringing much needed foreign currency, especially valued in a country facing extensive international sanctions for its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, the North Korean regime has shown their willingness to use American hostages as diplomatic bargaining chips. Kim Jung Un’s desperate actions mixed with nuclear ambitions creates a direct threat to the safety and security of American families.”
At least seventeen Americans have been detained in the past ten years, including University of Virginia student, Otto Warmbier, who died earlier this week, days after being released by North Korea. In recent years, there has been an increase in tourist travel to North Korea by citizens of Western countries, including the United States. In addition, North Korea has repeatedly detained U.S. visitors to serve their own purposes. The State Department currently has limited knowledge of the number of Americans in North Korea.
Earlier this year, Fitzpatrick called for increased economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea after it test-fired another ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Additionally, Fitzpatrick and the House passed two bipartisan measures to counter North Korea’s belligerent actions:
- H.R. 479 urges the State Department to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, and
- H. Res. 92 condemns North Korea’s development of ICBMs and calls for the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea to counter North Korea's missile threat.