Less than one week after South Korean journalists were told that they would be able to document the closure of the primary nuclear test site in North Korea, the North Korean government is sending a different message.
Officials in Seoul said that authorities in North Korean have not approved the visa requests for all of their country’s journalists who applied to gain admittance to the test site in Pyongyang. The curiously-named “dismantlement ceremony” could happen as soon as May 23, causing concern that the journalists will never receive the access they had been told they would obtain. The dismantlement will occur at the complex called Punggye-ri, as its underground tunnels will be blown up in an effort to prove to the global community that North Korea is serious about ending its nuclear testing program. The ceremony is scheduled to take place under the watchful eyes of journalists from Russia, China, South Korea, and the United States.
After years of global discord, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un finally relented last month and said that his country would close the doors of Punggye-ri. Kim was adamant in his insistence that the country had completed its goal of making effective nuclear weapons, and thus did not need to keep the six underground test sites operational.
Relations between North Korea and the rest of the world seemed to have softened over the last month, with both Kim and US President Donald Trump announcing their plans to meet in Singapore in June. However, those plans were called into question this week when North Korean government officials in Pyongyang threatened to pull out of the summit. South Korea also received the cold shoulder, as they received the notification that their neighbors to the north were canceling their planned meetings. Experts point to North Korea’s history of threatening meeting cancellations in an effort to gain the perceived upper hand.