|South Korean reporters at Incheon International Airport, Monday. / Yonhap|
By Park Si-soo
North Korea is demanding that each foreign reporter pay $10,000 for a visa to cover the planned dismantlement of a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, Seoul government officials said Monday.
South Korean reporters were exempt, the officials said. But people familiar with the situation said the rule could be overturned anytime given the reclusive state's unpredictability.
The North has invited an unspecified number of reporters from South Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and the U.K. to the dismantlement ceremony scheduled for sometime between Wednesday and Friday.
In the South, news wire News1 and broadcaster MBC were selected to cover the event. The two companies selected four staff ― two writers and two photographers from News1 and two reporters and two cameramen from MBC ― respectively. They arrived in Beijing in the afternoon of Monday.
Associated Press, ABC and CNN are among invited foreign news outlets invited to send staff.
North Korea has demanded that media representatives arrive at its Beijing embassy by Tuesday 11 a.m. Those who pay for a visa will travel to Wonsan on a 70-seat North Korean charter flight and then to the test site by bus.
Meanwhile, the North has not accepted South Korea's proposed list of reporters chosen to cover the dismantlement. Seoul's unification ministry has been trying to convey the list through the communication channel at the Panmunjom truce village since late last week, but the North has not responded.