5 years ago

South Korean reporters leave for coverage of North Korea's dismantling of Punggye-ri nuclear test site

Arirang News
Arirang News
북한 풍계리 핵실험장 폐기,... 한국 취재진 출국

This is the week North Korea promised to invite foreign reporters to come and witness the end of the regime's nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.
But according to our Lee Jiwon, uncertainty looms for South Korean journalists, with the regime still not resonding to their visa application.
A total of eight South Korean reporters left for Beijing on Monday to cover North Korea's dismantling of its nuclear test site.
But Pyongyang has still not accepted their visa application, which Seoul's Unification Ministry sent again on Monday morning.

Despite the ministry's efforts to confirm the South Korean reporters' invitation throughout the day, Pyongyang's Panmunjom channel closed in the afternoon, saying there is nothing more to exchange as of now.
In an effort to get an answer, South Korean reporters who traveled to Beijing gathered in front of the North Korean embassy in Beijing,... but to no avail.

But the ministry is still hopeful that there could be a change in stance from Pyongyang on Tuesday morning, just before the scheduled flight to the North's Wonsan Kalma Airport.
Pyongyang's silence comes after the regime criticized Seoul last week for holding joint military drills with the U.S. and for allowing a former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South to criticize the regime at Seoul's National Assembly.

Also in front of the embassy in Beijing were a handful of Japanese reporters who hadn't been invited by Pyongyang in the first place.
The North had invited reporters from South Korea, China, the U.S., Russia and the U.K.,... explicitly leaving Japan out.
Observers say that is due Japan's continuous hardline stance against the North and Tokyo's pressing of the U.S. on agendas for the upcoming Pyongyang-Washington summit.

Meanwhile, the North seems to be preparing to dismantle the nuclear test site.
U.S.-based North Korea monitoring website 38 North reported that satellite images show that several key operational support buildings at the nuclear test site have been taken down, and some of the rails for the mining carts that go in and out of the tunnels have also been removed.
What's also notable is that four rows of small structures, placed on the hillside some 200 meters south of the site's West Portal, have become much more visible.
While their purpose remains unclear, it's thought they could've been built for the reporters to safely watch the test site being demolished.

Reporters from other countries have all received their visas and are expected to take off from Beijing on a chartered plane Tuesday morning, to arrive in the North's southeastern city of Wonsan.
From there they will take a train to the test site for the demolition which could take place any day between Wednesday and Friday.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.

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