My journey to North Korea with the secretary of state

We were called in last Friday afternoon and told to get a new passport with a special permission stamped on one page authorizing a one-time-only visit to a geographically restricted country, a description that fits only North Korea, where the State Department has a travel ban for U.S. citizens. We were instructed to pack a small bag and be ready to depart on a moment’s notice, whenever it might come. And we were ordered to tell no one about it in advance.

“Are we going where I think we’re going?” I asked two officials in a room with the door closed.

They nodded, silently.

Three days later, with four hours’ notice, we were heading to Joint Base Andrews for what would be three legs of grueling flights stretched over almost 24 hours, with refueling stops in Alaska and Japan.