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Pyongyang grants permission to South Korean journos to witness demolition event

Foreign journalists travel to North Korea to report on nuclear site shutdown (file photo)

Seoul says North Korea has accepted a group of South Korean reporters to witness the planned destruction of a nuclear test site, which is seen as a goodwill gesture by Pyongyang toward peace.

Reporters from the United States, China, Russia, and now South Korea have been invited to watch the demolition of the Punggye-ri facility in the country’s northeast due to take place sometime between Wednesday and Friday, pending the weather condition.

South Korean journalists had been left off the list of invitees by Pyongyang in protest at a recent joint military combat drill between American and South Korean forces, which was interpreted by North Korea as a malicious act at a time of inter-Korean diplomacy.

But on Wednesday, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that South Korean reporters, too, had been granted permission to attend the event and that it planned to arrange a rare direct flight to ferry the journalists to the North Korean port city of Wonsan.

Reporters from news outlets from the other countries arrived in the city of Wonsan on Tuesday.

They said North Korean authorities had told them the weather was “too bad for travel” to the Punggye-ri site.

Punggye-ri has been the site of all six of the North’s nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September last year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb.

North and South Koreas have been reaching out to one another since January this year, after decades of hostility.

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