South Carolina Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson has introduced a bill that would require the Treasury Department to issue a mandatory license for travel to and from North Korea.
The measure provides that no licenses can be issued for tourist travel.
"Tourist travel to North Korea does nothing but provide funds to a tyrannical regime — that will in turn be used to develop weapons to threaten the United States and our allies, as I saw firsthand on a rare visit to Pyongyang,” Wilson said in media release.
“Worse, the regime has routinely imprisoned innocent foreign civilians and used them as bargaining chips to gain credibility with the West. We should not enable them any longer, which is why it is critical to carefully regulate travel to North Korea.”
Wilson represents the state's 2nd District and is from Lexington. The bill was co-authored by California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff.
The lawmakers said North Korea has shown a willingness to use American prisoners to seek diplomatic concessions.
"At least seventeen Americans have been detained in the past ten years, despite the State Department strongly warning U.S. citizens against traveling to the DPRK," their media alert said.
At least four Americans are currently being held or imprisoned in North Korea.