North Korea [Shutterstock]

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Highlights

U.S.-North Korea Relations

The U.S. and Korea’s Joseon Dynasty established diplomatic relations under the 1882 Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, and the first U.S. diplomatic envoy arrived in Korea in 1883. U.S.-Korea relations continued until 1905, when Japan assumed direction over Korean foreign affairs. In 1910, Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule over Korea. Following Japan's surrender in 1945 at the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided at the 38th parallel into two occupation zones, with the U.S. in the South and the Soviet Union in the North. Initial hopes for a unified, independent Korea were not realized, and in 1948 two separate nations were established — the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North.

U.S. Assistance to North Korea

In the past, the U.S. has provided food and other emergency aid to North Korea during times of famine and natural disasters, upon request by North Korea. The U.S. does not currently provide any direct aid to North Korea. Currently, there are a number of U.S. NGOs that travel to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) through private and faith-based donor support, to provide aid to fight infectious diseases such as multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis and to improve farming practices and agricultural output in rural areas.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The U.S. imposed a near total economic embargo on North Korea in 1950 when North Korea attacked the South. Over the following years, some U.S. sanctions were eased, but others were imposed. Most recently, Executive Order 13810 was signed by the President on September 21, 2017, in the wake of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) nuclear test and multiple ICBM tests in September 2017. Combined with previous executive orders and other restrictions on the DPRK, these constitute the most restrictive sanctions on North Korea to date.

U.S. Department of State

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