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After Otto Warmbier's Death, Lawmakers Consider North Korea Travel Ban

by Countable | 6.20.17

The death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier at the hands of the North Korean regime is stirring a debate in the U.S. Capitol over whether America should ban travel to the rogue nation. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson floated the idea at a hearing last week, but the death of the college student, who was in a coma for more than a year and suffered serious brain damage while incarcerated for 17 months, has lawmakers considering whether they need to put the ban in law.

"We’re limited. China is the entity that can put the most pressure," Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters Tuesday.

"We end up in a very difficult situation when Americans go visiting and end up with these trumped up charges, we extend a tremendous amount of resources and time to try to free them, as we should, but it’s time that we look at the whole policy of U.S. citizens going there knowing that they have absolutely zero interest in true human rights there."

Other lawmakers are warning Americans to avoid traveling to the oppressive country, even if they were planning to for humanitarian, academic or even journalistic purposes.

"I think the treatment of this individual was disastrous and sadly not completely unpredictable in dealing with this regime, so I can’t imagine a single American that would want to travel there after the way he was treated," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) told reporters at the Capitol. “But whether you need legislation to bar it or not I haven’t really given it that much thought.”

Other Democrats argue the Trump administration needs to exert more pressure on North Korean leaders, with or without a travel ban.

"The administration needs to be much tougher on North Korea," Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) tells Countable. “We’re in the process of working on economic sanctions on North Korea, modeled after the sanctions we placed on Iran. The administration been engaged in a lot of reckless tough talk without specific action.”

Tell your lawmakers what you think of North Korea's treatment of Otto Warmbier

- Matt Laslo

(Photo Credit: (stephan) / Creative Commons)

Countable

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(67)
  • Maureen
    06/20/2017
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    How are we allowed to travel to North Korea, but not Cuba??

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  • Adam
    06/20/2017
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    Anyone who thinks it's safe to go to North Korea is an idiot. Why would you want to go anyway?

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  • Gail
    06/20/2017
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    I am not big on travel bans, but I am very much for education. Americans need to hear about the real risks of traveling to such a country. Get the word out everywhere, especially through colleges and universities, the US post office, libraries and the like. I wept for the parents when I heard Otto died because of the suffering he no doubt went through. Although it is understandable that people are upset, including politicians, about how this young man died, it would be great if Congress took a deeper look at how many lives are lost at their hands via arms sales all over the world. For example, the recent commitment to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia. And soon, if the Republicans have their way, the premature deaths of countless Americans will be the direct result of the passage of health care reform that leaves millions uninsured or unable to pay the costly premiums, leaving folks with the choice of bankruptcy or foregoing medical care.This is unconscionable in this day and age. If this is the result of the new health care law, then I implore Americans to vote out this morally bankrupt group of lawmakers who fail completely to serve those they were elected to represent. More than that, they must have hearts of iron toward the average person, who has been pleading with them for months to give us the very best of health care plans to serve all Americans, to instead secretly plan to abuse us. How can so many of them squander the great chance to positively serve the highest good of so many? It should be an honor and a privilege to serve in Congress, but instead some of them have a disease that is apparently contagious, a disease of the heart, that makes them cold, greedy, full of contempt for their constituents and short-sighted, intent on pleasing their donors to the detriment of most. To treat Americans in this fashion is to have contempt for our Constitution and Bill of Rights and a total disregard for their mission. They do not deserve to hold office any longer.

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  • Jackie
    06/21/2017
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    There wasn't a travel ban? Was there at least an advisory? We can't even get cigars from Cuba, much less go there, but the land of Kim Jong Un-stable, who is prepping nuclear warheads to aim at us, is ok? It is insane to go to these countries and (God help me agreeing with Rex Tillerson) it strains our resources to have to try to rescue the idiots that want to go there. This young man's death was a tragedy for his family, but not for anyone else. His father on the news blaming it all on Obama is disgusting. Did you try to stop your son from doing such a stupid thing? Personal responsibility is a real thing.

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  • Mark
    06/20/2017
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    When you leave the USA you are accountable to the laws of the country you are visiting. Does ripping a poster down equal 15 years of hard labor in the USA? No, but he wasn't in the USA he was North Fucking Korea. He should have known better, he didn't he got punished for it by the laws of the land. Citizens of the USA are not more special than the citizens of any other country. If a North Korean or citizen of any country came here and committed a crime that warranted the death penalty we would expect that person to get the death penalty. Basically stop politicizing the death of a person stupid enough to travel to North Korea and even stupider tore down a propaganda poster. He was a criminal in the country he visited, he was treated like a criminal. Nothing out of the ordinary happened.

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  • Ticktock
    06/20/2017
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    Why has this taken so long. It is obvious that some people do not take the risk as serious as it really is. A US citizen going to N Korea is volunteering to be a pawn in their brinkmanship and the pawn never wins. Yes, a travel ban would be a good idea. This will at least limit N Korea's ability to gab additional pawns.

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  • Gail
    06/20/2017
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    Waste of energy and time. A recommendation Not to travel there is enough. If people are so willing to place their lives at risk, so be it. Our Government is not going to legislate common sense nor should they waste our time and money if our citizens insist on traveling to a country that may detain them indefinitely.

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  • Tyson
    06/21/2017
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    The risk is already known. There is no need to enforce a travel ban.

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  • Tiffany
    06/21/2017
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    What's the point? Everyone knows the risk. If an individual accepts the risk, then let them go. The reality is still that the vast majority of Americans who have visited North Korea have come back unscathed. @Sandra Protesting is a constitutionally protected freedom. If you despise those who would exercise these freedoms, then you are despising the bedrock of our country, the Constitution itself. Free speech sets us apart from many other countries, including North Korea. As for those on the left "taring down" Trump supporters, it is sad that there is so little civility in politics these days. However, Trump supporters don't really get to complain about that, given that they voted for (and continue to support) a man who was the epitome of vulgarity, even urging his supporters to violence. Interesting how he has shown so little interest in uniting the country (he does not even use the word "unite"), and how the GOP has decided to give violent white nationalism tacit approval. If you want more respect, then first respect others--- protestors, women, the poor, children, refugees, African-Americans, Hispanics, Middle Easterners, Indians, Muslims, LGBT, independents, moderates, and liberals... all of whom this president treats as inferior.

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  • Phillip
    06/20/2017
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    No travel ban required but it should be made clear that the US government will not attempt to waste time and money to get you out if you are stupid enough to go

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  • Millie
    06/21/2017
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    That would be good because since people can't make the smart decision not to go to dangerous countries like North Korea which can get us in a war for defending them, then we must make it for them

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  • Ann
    06/20/2017
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    I think, for the safety of American travelers, a ban on travel to North Korea along with fierce sanctions should be placed.

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  • Gfeiste
    06/21/2017
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    If we can't go to Cuba, why in heavens name would we be allowed to go to North Korea?

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  • Bob
    06/21/2017
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    So his death is on Obama? Well, Mr Badass - there are still 3 Americans in prison there. THEIR WELFARE IS ALL ON YOU!!!!! Then again, we all know your love for non-whites (the 3 still there are Asians), so they're screwed, aren't they? Can't get them back playing golf!

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  • Jean
    06/20/2017
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    Definitely stop all travel to North Korea. There's no need for the safety of one other American to be put in danger. I would also express to all Americans to come home now. However they can keep Rodman.

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  • Sandra
    06/21/2017
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    Gail how can you say that republicans are the bad guys when you liberals are literally taring down America buy your rhetoric by protesting and harming Trump supporters. How is this any different than the terrorist in our nation. The protestors are destroying America not Trump

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  • Ochoninja
    06/21/2017
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    As long as North Korea does not follow Geneva convention rules but use extreme punishments and torture for minor offenses we need to disallow visits. We have more prisoners and who knows what is happening to them with impunity. We cannot endanger people who think they are helping but endanger their own lives to enter NK.

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  • Debbie
    06/21/2017
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    Save our citizens by forbidding travel to countries that will not guarantee the safety and rights of our citizens.

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  • Jill
    06/21/2017
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    Yes we need to ban travel to North Korea! I can't believe we actually allowed group tours to go there! It's insane. Until recently Americans couldn't go to Cuba and they aren't as hostile towards us as North Korea.

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  • Mona
    06/20/2017
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    So we are back on a travel ban to Cuba but people can still travel to N Korea? Stupid.

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