The Slatest

North Korea Abruptly Cancels U.N. Chief’s Groundbreaking Visit

North Korean employees work on the assembly line of a factory of a South Korean company in Dec. 2013 in Kaesong, North Korea.  

Photo by Park Jin-Hee-Pool/Getty Images

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s scheduled Wednesday visit to North Korea was set to be a milestone for the country—not only would it be the first trip by the U.N. Secretary-General in more than twenty years, Ban, who hails from South Korea, was once the foreign minister North Korea’s southern neighbor. On Tuesday, however, on the eve of the symbolic visit to the Kaesong economic zone, a decade-old joint industrial project meant to bolster economic cooperation, Pyongyang unexpectedly cancelled the visit.

“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 announced at a meeting in Seoul on Tuesday.. “No explanation was given for this last-minute change.”

“The South Korean U.N. chief’s visit was intended to pave the way for increased cooperation at a time when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has purged his military, including the alleged assassination of his Defense Minister, and tested nuclear capable missiles,” CBS News reports.