Ahn Young-joon/AP
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attends the UN Academic Impact Seoul Forum in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

North Korea reverses field on Ban Ki-moon visit, according to UN chief

The current United Nations Secretary-General is a native of South Korea and served as foreign minister from 2004-06.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday his plan to go to North Korea this week to visit an industrial complex had been scrapped after Pyongyang retracted its earlier approval, calling the decision "deeply regrettable."

The move by Pyongyang to abort Ban's visit to the Kaesong factory park on Thursday dashes what would have been a rare diplomatic opening by reclusive North Korea amid a tense standoff with South Korea. The park is just a few minutes' drive north of the heavily fortified border between the rival states.

"Early this morning, the authorities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea informed us, through their diplomatic channels, that they were reversing their decision for me to visit the Kaesong industrial complex," Ban said in a speech, using North Korea's official name.

"No explanation was given for this last-minute change," he said at a conference in Seoul.

Ban is South Korean and served as foreign minister from 2004-06, a period of intense negotiations aimed at ending the North's nuclear program. Those talks led to a 2005 deal that later fell apart.

North Korea's state media have not carried news of Ban's planned visit or the decision to withdraw the invitation.

On Tuesday, Ban announced the plan to visit the special economic zone run jointly by the North and the South that is the only ongoing vestige of cooperation borne from their first summit meeting 15 years ago.

Ban had said he hoped his visit, which had been set for Thursday, would help reopen dialog between the two sides.

Ban was to be the third serving UN chief to go to the North and the first since Boutros Boutros-Ghali visited in 1993.

This news comes just a week after the Monitor reported on the execution of North Korea's defense minister.

North Korea’s defense minister was reportedly executed for disloyalty and showing disrespect to leader Kim Jong-un, according to South Korea’s intelligence agency. The move underscores the young ruler’s drive to consolidate power, analysts say, but could also be a sign of instability in Pyongyang.

The People's Armed Forces Minister Hyon Yong-chol was killed in front of hundreds of spectators at a shooting range on the Kanggon Military Training Area in late April, according to reports from a South Korean National Intelligence Service briefing. Intelligence reports on North Korea’s activities always have to be treated with a degree of skepticism due to the nation’s secretive and closed-off nature. A recent report from the US-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, however, stated that satellite imagery of the area, just outside Pyongyang, appeared to corroborate the account.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to North Korea reverses field on Ban Ki-moon visit, according to UN chief
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today