What Passports Do North Korea Allow

Background Information

North Korea is one of the most reclusive countries in the world, both politically and economically. The North Korean government has very strict control over domestic and foreign travel, including the issuance of passports. North Korean citizens are generally not allowed to leave the country and travel abroad, even to visit their families. This is because the North Korean government tries to maintain strict control on the population and prevent any attempts of its citizens emigrating.

Passport Types

The North Korean government only allows two types of passports to be issued to its citizens. The first is a “Worker’s International Travel Passport”, which is issued to North Korean citizens who have state authorization to travel abroad for labor-related purposes. The second type of passport is the “Diplomatic Service Passport”, which is issued to North Korean citizens who are state diplomats or other officials working abroad under the auspices of the North Korean government.

Restrictions on Domestic Travel

The North Korean government also imposes a number of restrictions on domestic travel. To be allowed to travel outside of the city or province they are registered in, citizens are required to request and obtain a travel permit from the local police or security offices. In some cases, they are also required to register with the authorities and provide detailed information about their planned travels.

Visiting Foreigners

The North Korean government is very restrictive when it comes to foreigners entering the country. All foreigners travelling to North Korea must obtain an entry visa, which requires the approval of both the North Korean government as well as the inviting organization or individual. Tourists visiting North Korea are required to have a tour guide at all times and are limited to visiting certain areas and attractions.

New Immigration Law

In 2019, the North Korean government passed a new immigration law which allows North Koreans to travel abroad without obtaining official authorization. The law also states that North Koreans are allowed to travel overseas to study, work, or carry out business activities, though they are still required to get official authorization before they can travel abroad.

Economic Situation

Despite this somewhat liberalized policy on travel, the fact is that few North Koreans actually take advantage of these relaxed regulations. This is largely due to the fact that the North Korean economy is highly suppressed and isolated under the current sanctions regime placed on the country by the international community in response to its nuclear weapons program. Consequently, many North Koreans are trapped within their country and lack the resources necessary to travel abroad.

Impact on Society

The limited freedom of movement that North Koreans have had for decades has had a significant impact on society, particularly in terms of family ties. Many North Korean citizens who have travelled abroad in the past have not been able to visit their families in the country, leading to a social fragmentation of the population.

International Image

In recent years, the North Korean government has made efforts to improve its international image and open up its borders to foreign visitors. However, the country is still highly restrictive about who it allows to visit, and North Korean citizens are still largely restricted in their freedom of movement both within the country and abroad.

Impact of Sanctions

The international sanctions placed on North Korea in response to its nuclear weapons program have had a significant impact on the country’s economy, as well as its citizens’ freedom of movement. Exports are heavily restricted and citizens are not allowed to travel to countries that have imposed sanctions on the country.

Life in North Korea

The restricted freedom of movement experienced by the North Korean people has a significant impact on their lives. With strict travel laws in place, citizens are unable to visit family members abroad, or to travel for education and business opportunities outside of the country. For those North Koreans who are lucky enough to receive a passport and travel abroad, the experience can still be a difficult and challenging one.

Expert Opinions

According to experts, the inability for citizens of North Korea to freely travel and explore the world is a major factor in the country’s stagnation and isolation. They argue that easing restrictions on foreign travel and allowing North Koreans to go abroad would have a positive effect on the country’s economy and development.

Change In Attitude?

In recent years, there have been signs of a shift in attitude by the North Korean government towards travel by its citizens. The new immigration law and attempts to attract more foreign tourists could signal a gradual loosening of travel restrictions. However, even if the restrictions are eased, it is unlikely that the situation will change significantly in the near future.


The limited freedom of movement experienced by the citizens of North Korea has significant implications for the country, its citizens and its international image. The government’s lack of tolerance for its citizens travelling abroad is a major factor in the country’s international isolation, and this is unlikely to change in the near future.

Impact on Marketplace

The restricted freedom of movement in North Korea has had a significant impact on the marketplace. The lack of access to markets and goods, combined with the inability to travel to foreign countries to purchase goods, has led to inadequate supply of goods and goods of questionable quality, allowing small private businesses to thrive in the shadow of the state-controlled economy.

Limited Accessibility

As restrictions on the issuance of passports remain in place, the vast majority of North Koreans will continue to have limited access to the outside world. This means that the majority of citizens will remain within the country and will be unable to experience the world beyond the North Korean border.

Challenges Ahead

The reality for North Koreans remains one of limited freedom of movement and access to the outside world. The challenges facing the North Korean government and citizens when it comes to freedom of movement are likely to remain in the future. In order to improve the situation, the North Korean government needs to work to reduce restrictions on its citizens’ freedom of movement.

Cassie Grissom is an American journalist and author living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been studying the Korean peninsula since 2011, and her work focuses on understanding human rights issues in North Korea. In addition to her work as an author, Cassie is an active advocate for human rights in North Korea. She regularly shares stories about life in North Korea with international audiences to raise awareness of the plight of its citizens.

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