Daniel Jasper, the Asia Public Education and Advocacy Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee has just published the article Opening More Channels in US-North Korea Relations, explaining that there are exceptions to the travel ban that still allow exchanges between the two countries. From the article (DPRK is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea):
“With so little communication and such high stakes, Washington ignores the humanitarian channel to the DPRK at its own peril. Currently operating assistance programs are having enormous impacts on the lives of ordinary North Koreans, and these programs often unearth viable opportunities in bilateral relations.
For instance, I work for the American Friends Service Committee, an organization that currently has an agricultural program that is helping to improve food security for up to 72,000 North Koreans. Although this impact alone is a sufficient case for humanitarian work, the on-the-ground and consistent nature of these programs creates a space in which U.S. and North Korean organizations can identify opportunities for engagement.”
He describes an assessment that was done by an AFSC delegation in 2016, which can be found here https://www.afsc.org/document/engaging-north-korea:
“The assessment found that not only are government-sponsored exchanges between the U.S. and DPRK legally and logistically possible, they are one of the lowest-risk, highest-yield tools the U.S. has in its diplomatic toolkit. Existing programs such as the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) offer existing mechanisms to bring North Koreans to the US. Even Trump’s travel ban—which now includes the DPRK—makes carveouts for participants in government-sponsored exchange programs. And in 2004, Congress made funds available to the State Department for conducting such exchanges with the DPRK—a provision that stands today.”
As I understand it, this means the visit the Des Moines Register is suggesting would indeed be possible.
You can write to the Register to support this visit: firstname.lastname@example.org, and here’s an online link http://static.desmoinesregister.com/submit-a-letter/
Jon Krieg, AFSC Des Moines, also shared this letter Jeffrey Weiss sent to the Register:
Letter to the editor:
The Chinese government proposed a deal to defuse tension in the Koreas: The United States and South Korea end their war games on the border of North Korea; in exchange, Pyongyang ends all missile testing.
North Korea has signaled they may be amenable to this; if nothing else, it should be explored.
In the meantime the war of words places millions of innocent lives in the balance.
Jeffrey J Weiss
Catholic Peace Ministry
Peace Education Director