North Korea has not responded to the Seoul government’s list of journalists chosen to attend the ceremony for the dismantlement of its nuclear test site, the unification ministry said Friday.
“The government tried to notify (North Korea of the names of) our journalists who will cover the event for the nuclear test site dismantlement in Punggye-ri through the communication channel at Panmunjom, but the North has not accepted this,” a ministry official said.
The North earlier invited four reporters each from a wire news agency or broadcasting company for the event to be held from Wednesday to Friday to shut down the Punggye-ri site, where the North carried out all six of its nuclear denotation tests.
This comes after the North abruptly canceled high-level inter-Korean talks scheduled for Wednesday, taking issue with an ongoing joint air military drill between South Korea and the United States. It also threatened to call off a summit with the U.S. scheduled for June 12.
Seoul expressed regret over the unilateral decision, urging the North to come out for talks as soon as possible to discuss follow-up measures to the April 27 inter-Korean summit agreement.
The North, however, doubled down on its criticism, with Ri Son-gwon, the chief of North Korea’s agency handling affairs with the South, saying Thursday that talks will not happen if Seoul and Washington continue their joint military drills.
On Saturday, North Korea announced that it will publicly dismantle the test site located in the country’s northern region in a ceremony to which media people from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain will be invited to cover.
Critics say that the nuclear site has already been rendered useless following the previous six blast tests and that dismantling it would be merely symbolic.
Experts think it is still a meaningful step toward denuclearization ahead of the upcoming unprecedented U.S.-North Korea summit talks, at which its nuclear weapons program will likely top the agenda. (Yonhap)