The closure of the Punggye-ri test site, where all of Pyongyang's six nuclear bomb test explosions occurred, is expected to happen on Thursday or Friday. Foreign and South Korean media will be present.
North Korea is preparing to dismantle its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and has allowed South Korean journalists to join the small group of foreign media set to witness the event, South Korea's unification ministry said on Wednesday.
The dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site is expected to happen on Thursday or Friday, depending on weather.
North Korea had earlier refused to allow South Korean journalists into the country, raising worries about the prospect for recently improving ties.
Their exclusion followed Pyongyang cutting off high-level contact with Seoul to protest joint US-South Korean military exercises.
Invited members of foreign media said North Korean authorities told them the weather was "too bad for travel" to the Punggye-ri site but they might in fact be awaiting the South Korean reporters, citing a forecast that shows improving weather.
South Korea welcomes decision
Seoul's unification ministry said North Korea accepted the list of eight South Koreans to attend via a cross-border communication channel.
"Our government welcomes that our media get to participate in the event and hope that with the dismantlement of Punggye-ri as a start, the complete de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula takes place as soon as possible through the US-North Korea summit and dialogue at various levels," it said.
Fewer than two dozen journalists allowed on our trip to North Korea’s nuclear site. Lots of empty seats on the flight to Wonsan. We expect an 11 hour train ride, 4 hour drive & 1 hour hike to Punggye Ri to observe what NK claims is site dismantlement. No experts, only reporters. pic.twitter.com/GYmesxkyR6— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) May 22, 2018
A special flight was to take South Korea's journalists to the North on Wednesday.
Reporters from news outlets from the other countries arrived in the North Korean port city of Wonsan on Tuesday, where they are waiting to be guided to the testing site for the event.
However, South Korean journalists returned home overnight after failing to obtain a visa from Pyongyang in Beijing.
The unification ministry said late on Tuesday the South Korean reporters could fly direct to Wonsan if the North accepted them.
"We delivered a list of eight reporters from two outlets to the North today, and the North accepted it," the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The invitation to witness the event was seen as an indication that North Korea's unexpected offer to end its nuclear tests still held despite renewed diplomatic uncertainty.
Trump casts doubts on summit
The dismantling of the testing site comes after US President Donald Trump said there was a "substantial chance" his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not take place as planned on June 12 amid concerns that Kim was resistant to giving up his nuclear weapons.
Trump raised doubts on Tuesday about the Singapore summit for talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who came to Washington to urge Trump not to let a rare opportunity with reclusive North Korea slip away.