SEOUL, May 23. /TASS/. North Korea did not demand South Korean journalists, set to cover the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, pay $10,000 each for visas, a source in the South Korean Ministry of Unification told TASS.
"A number of media outlets reported that foreign reporters had been allegedly asked to pay $10,000 for the trip. We don’t have such information," the source said, adding that North Korea had not put forward any financial demands to South Korean reporters. The source also confirmed that eight journalists from South Korea had departed for North Korea.
The South Korean government hastily arranged a charter flight to take the reporters to the North Korean city of Wonsan from an air base located in the Seongnam city near Seoul. They will return via Beijing alongside other foreign journalists who have already arrived in North Korea.
Pyongyang earlier several times refused to accept Seoul’s list of journalists without explanation. The joint South Korean-US military drills may be the reason, which North Korea believes to be a violation of the agreements reached at the April inter-Korean summit.
On May 12, North Korean’s Foreign Ministry announced that a public dismantling ceremony would take place at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site between May 23 and 25, depending on weather conditions. The ministry also said that journalists from Russia, Great Britain, China, South Korea and the United States would be allowed to cover the ceremony.
An agreement to close the nuclear test site and hold a public ceremony was made at talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.