15 JUNE 2015


Even before leaving U.N. Headquarters in New York to preside over an international meeting on Education in Seoul, his "secret" plan to visit North Korea was no longer secret. For sure, it was not his loyal international staff who leaked it to interested parties. Almost likely it was other interested, concerned, or opportunistic compatriots, besides elementary monitoring of any U.N. Secretary-General's planned activities. Anyway, the following was noted:

  1. News broke out through Seoul about the termination of the North Korean Defense Minister by ruthless artillery
  2. Critical condemnation of varied purported actions by the North Korean regime, including a brief puzzle on a disappearance by its young leader
  3. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, visiting South Korea, highlighted the impossibility of any reasonable collaboration with the "brutal" North
  4. Also by coincidence, reports circled about a case involving Ban Ki-moon's nephew in relation to a scandal involving one official's suicide
  5. During his presence in Seoul, after casually indicating his intention to cross the demarcation line, he was questioned by Korean reporters about his personal motivation, particularly his future role and prospects after leaving the U.N. as follows:

    Q: You mentioned that you'd like to visit Kaesong this afternoon. Once you go to Kaesong as you explained just now, who are you going to meet and what is your agenda? Does this visit have to do with your plans for life after retirement, like what the political circles here have claimed?

    SG: (Translated from Korean) This Thursday, when I visit Kaesong, I will first visit with firms and North Korean workers. I've long thought that Kaesong Industrial Complex is the best pilot programme that can utilize the strengths of both Koreas. Of course, Inter-Korean relations can freeze at times. But Kaesong business, despite such political situations, remains in place and I think this is very helpful. The main purpose of my visit is to emphasize such point more and help the two Koreas be able to address problems through dialogue and practical cooperation, which can expand the dialogue framework for political issues. As to who I am going to meet exactly, I think a team will go in advance tomorrow and negotiate. My visit to the DPRK was confirmed just this afternoon, so I don't have detailed plans for my visit. But one thing I'd like to stress and can say with a clear conscience is that my diplomatic moves come from my desire as United Nations Secretary-General to help make realistic contributions to improving inter-Korean relations. I hope you don't presume that I have some other political motivations behind this.
  6. Mr. Ban was reminded of U.S. Secretary Kerry admonition to take a "firm stand on DPRK," the case of his nephew, and repeatedly on his personal ambitions. In a response to a direct query, he obviously stated that the firing of missiles and development of nuclear weapons "go against U.N. Security Council resolutions." The following day, the North Korean government announced that the proposed meeting was cancelled.

Incidentally, it will be interesting to add a concluding comment by the Secretary-General:

"I've seen many reports having to do with my future political activities. I think that there are many differences between domestic politics and global politics. In my humble opinion, for domestic politics, those who sacrifice and work to contribute to the development of Korea should enter politics upon people's judgment. I'd like to ask you to please refrain from making guesses about me, my future political activities or conducting polls that carry my name. I hope that polling agencies will not include my name in any future polls. Until my term as UN SG ends on 31 December 2016, I will not waste any moment but work towards world peace and security, sustainable development, protection of human rights, and tackling climate change, which are tasks for the well-being of humanity. I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to the people of Korea for generous support for me. I would appreciate the Korean public to give me an opportunity to end my term as United Nations Secretary-General successfully and proudly greet you in Korea afterward and a chance for me to feel rewarded for my work."