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After Ban Ki-moon Met S Korean Pols, ICP Asked Why  Only Korean UN Staff With Him

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 16  -- What has Ban Ki-moon turned the UN into, as he seeks to run for President of South Korea? On September 15 for his photo op with South Korean Speaker of the National Assembly Chung Sye-Kyun, he got his spokeman Stephane Dujarric to violate otherwise applicable rules and allow upstairs (Korean) print journalists, who are usually told, no camera, no entry.

   The reason quickly became clear: Ban delivered a long speech. During it, as Dujarric (who is not present at most such photo op) moved to tell the press to leave. Ban's aide  Chang Wook-Jin indicated no, let them stay. This was, it seems, a campaign video.

  On the UN side of the table with Ban were only South Korean UN officials -- Kim Won-soo and Kyung-hwa Kang -- and, strangely, South Korea's Permanent Representative Oh Joon and his deputy. Photo here. What were they doing on the “UN” side of the table? Or was this a UN meeting at all?

   There were name plates, all in Korean; there were cups of tea. There was no translation. We have put that Periscope video up.

And when the South Korean politicans came down and briefed the Korean press at the UN Security Council stakeout, which Inner City Press under the eviction and censorship orders of Ban and his head of Communication Cristina Gallach can no longer freely access, a kind escort (this time) got it through. Inner City Press asked for a short read out in English, but this was refused.  Vine here. A helpful journalist translated: Ban told them he will go to South Korea mid January, and this was taken to mean he is ready to run. Periscope here. Why use the UN for this?

On September 16, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Dujarric, Beyond the Vine video here, Vines here and here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press:  a bilateral meeting held yesterday on the 38th floor at 3:30 with the speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea.  You were there, so it's just… the facts don't seem to be in dispute.  But afterwards, those who attended held a stakeout, and I'm told by those who spoke with him that they spoke… they read much into it in terms of running for President in South Korea.  I know you're not responsible for that, but what I don't understand is why on the UN side of the table there were only Korean staffers of the UN.  For example, climate change was talked; where was Mr. [David] Nabarro and Mr. [Selwyn] Hart?  And why was Oh Joon and his deputy from the Mission of South Korea on the UN side of the table?

Spokesman:  I think on where the Ambassador of Korea was sitting, I would not read too much into the seating arrangements, because I think room had to be made.  I think everybody everyone understands the clear delineation between the Mission of the Republic of Korea and the Secretary-General.  The meeting was held in Korean because the delegation was Korean.  I think it's only normal that the Secretary-General be with a staff that was… that is Korean.  I think the complications of putting up interpretation booths was probably not worth it.  So I think, whether it's… the Secretary-General is, himself, speaking clearly and in depth about the issue of climate change, whether it's in English or in Korean.

ICP Question:  Right.  But, I mean, I guess, I've attended photo ops where there is translation.  I was just wondering… You can see how this appears.  It makes it appear, professionally, given the stakeout afterwards, as very much directed at…

Spokesman:  You know, the Secretary-General was receiving a delegation from his home country.  I think he's… he has never denied that he is from South Korea.  He received a delegation from his home country.  They spoke in Korean.

ICP Question:  Relatedly.  I've attended other ones… I'm for all journalists going upstairs, but I've seen in previous… other photo ops, journalists that don't have a camera, print journalists, being told you can't go upstairs.  And yesterday I saw that waived.  So I'm just wondering, what was so special about this meeting that the rules, otherwise applicable and in force, were not applicable?

Spokesman:  I think sometimes we do away with the rules.  It's not the first and only time.

  Ban's lawless UN - Inner City Press was thrown out for supposedly violating an unwritten rule; its office was given to an Egyptian state media which does not comply with the stated three day a week rule.

 Here's Ban's read out:

"Readout of the Secretary-General’s meeting with Hon. Mr. CHUNG Sye-kyun, Speaker of the Republic of Korea National Assembly; Hon. Mr. CHUNG Jin-suk, Floor Leader of the Saenuri Party; Hon. Mr. WOO Sang-ho, Floor Leader of the Minjoo Party of Korea; and Hon. Mr. PARK Jie-won, Floor Leader of the People’s Party
The Secretary-General met today with Hon. Mr. CHUNG Sye-kyun, the Speaker of the Republic of Korea (RoK) National Assembly and the Floor Leaders of the Saenuri Party, the Minjoo Party of Korea, and the People’s Party.  

The Secretary-General expressed his serious concerns regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) continued nuclear and missile tests. He recognized the unprecedented simultaneous visit today by the leaders of all major RoK political parties to the United Nations Headquarters as a strong multi-partisan message against further provocation and for peace and security on the Korean Peninsula in the context of ongoing UN Security Council discussions on a new resolution on the DPRK’s fifth nuclear test.

The Secretary-General underscored the urgency for a global response to climate change and called the Paris Agreement a key milestone in this regard.  The Secretary-General urged the Parliamentarians to ratify the Paris Agreement and bolster the RoK’s leadership as the host country of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Global Climate Fund.  

The Secretary-General commended the National Assembly for its many initiatives linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. He underscored the critical role parliamentarians play at the national level to ensure the implementation of the SDGs. Furthermore, the Secretary-General encouraged them to increase the RoK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commensurate with the country’s economic development."

Hmm. Why weren't the UN's climate change people there?

When Ban Ki-moon wrapped up his five day campaign trip in South Korea with a three-question "press conference" at the UN's DPI-NGO conference, he criticized "coverage of what was supposed to be off-the-record meeting with the Kwanhoon Club" of political correspondents.

Even during Ban's long visit to South Korea, Inner City Press in New York where it has been evicted from its long time shared UN office and is still confined to minders, told not to question diplomats asked the UN why no transcript was provided of Ban's session with the Kwanhoon Club. It asked again on June 10, the day after Ban himself called such questions "undue."

On August 26, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about yet another instance of a “Ban aide” spinning the South Korean media about Ban's goal of running for president. Video here. Beyond the Vine video here; from the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: There's a story in The Korea Times, as per usual, about the possibility of the Secretary-General running for president.  The only reason I'm asking is because it quotes what it describes as a Ban Ki-moon aide at some length saying:  “Now that the Pro-Park lawmakers have taken the helm of the party, many say it will be helpful to Ban in launching a presidential bid, but I and other confidents of Ban don't agree.”  So, it seems like… I just want to know, is it… this is described as a Ban aide, so I don't think he has any aides beyond UN staff.

Spokesman:  First of all, I'm not in the business of trying to figure out who anonymous sources are, how people describe themselves.  So, I can only say that, again… I mean, there's really nothing for me to say except that the Secretary-General is fully focused on only being Secretary-General until 31 December.

Inner City Press:  And would he encourage his UN-paid aides to…?
Spokesman:  I will not speculate… I will not speculate that the person that's quoted is actually… who that person is.  Anybody who works for the UN, whether they are Korean, Nepalese or French, are only working on UN matters.  Madame?  

This is how Ban's spokesman cut off Inner City Press on August 25, when is asked how Ban could name his own son in law Siddarth Chatterjee the head of the entire UN system in Kenya without recusing himself. Ban's Spokesman Dujarric refused to answer, then returned on August 26 and acknowledged that Ban had not recused himself, among other things. Beyond the Vine video here. We'll have more on this.

On July 28, Inner City Press asked South Korea's Ambassador Oh Joon about his quote to the Korea Herald, here: "The likelihood of Ban running for the presidential election is higher than before (his visit to Korea).  He currently sees his run for the election as one of the possible options, which is a change from his previous position."

Oh Joon told Inner City Press the reporter put that in his mouth. Vine here. Video here. We'll have more on this.

Oh Joon told Inner Ity Presss the "reporter put that in my mouth.">
On July 22, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about Ban's campaigning using UN diplomatic pouches, video here,, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: there is an article in today's Chosun Ilbo of South Korea, describing a letter from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil saying, “I'll see you next January.  I would appreciate it very much if you would continue to give me guidance in the future as before.”  And the headline is:  Ban Ki-moon let slip Presidential ambitions.  And I know… that is their interpretation.

Deputy Spokesman:  That is quite a bit of an inference.

ICP Question:  What I'm going to ask you about is it says the letter arrived in a diplomatic pouch, so if this letter was some sort of a personal correspondence, was this an official correspondence from the UN?  What was the… I mean, it says that it arrived in a diplomatic pouch, but he is a former.  Does all letters that the Secretary-General sends out go in a diplomatic pouch or is this use of the UN pouch?

Deputy Spokesman:  That doesn’t mean it’s diplomatic correspondence.  He has also been, as you know, prior to his time at the United Nations, he has been in the diplomatic service, so that could be a different diplomatic pouch.  It doesn't imply that it’s a UN…

ICP Question:  Can you confirm this letter reported by Chosun Ilbo and then give whatever gloss you want on it, including how it was delivered?

Deputy Spokesman:  On this particular thing, if it's an UN communication, certainly, we might have something to say about it.  If it's not, we wouldn't.

ICP Question:  But if it's not, could it go in a UN pouch?  That’s my question.

Deputy Spokesman:  There is nothing here saying it's a UN pouch.  Not every diplomatic pouch is a UN pouch. 

That is how the UN published its transcript more than eight hours later. Ban Ki-moon's office emailed this to Inner City Press, without putting it in the transcript it issued later:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
Date: Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 3:37 PM
Subject: Your question on the use of diplomatic pouch
To: matthew.lee [at]

Regarding your question at the Friday noon briefing about the use of diplomatic pouch, the letter to Kim Jong-pil was sent by diplomatic pouch along with other thank-you letters to people whom the Secretary-General saw during his recent visit to the Republic of Korea.  As is standard practice, official letters, including thank-you letters following official visits, are sent by diplomatic pouch.


On June 30, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here: UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  In South Korea, you may have seen this or you may not have, in the Korean Times, it's a Ban Ki-moon fan club, which I wouldn't normally ask you about except that it… the express goal of the club is to promote Ban Ki-moon as President, and it's called the Fireflies.  They say they're going to do their main launch in October, and that it's committed to promoting Ban's achievements as UN Secretary-General.  So I wanted to know, I bet you he's aware of it.  Is he going to stop it?  Does he like it?  What's his relationship to it?

Spokesman:  He has no relationship to this.  He found out about it when he saw the press reports.  The Secretary-General's intentions for his future have… as he's often said, he will serve and focus on the work of the United Nations until 31 December at 11:59 p.m.  Then afterwards, he will make a decision on his future.

Inner City Press:  But, in the same way that he asked, I believe, in that Kwanhun session, journalists not to confuse matters between… is he going to ask these guys not to launch the Fireflies?

Spokesman:  You know…  People are free to express themselves.  As I said, he has absolutely no link to this group.

On June 16, as Inner City Press continued to ask Ban's spokesman Dujarric about Ban's role in retaliation - and Dujarric refused to answer - it was told by other sources that the South Korean mission has come out defending its role in promoting meetings for Ban with South Korea political figures, defending its travel with Ban and specifically denying the Mission wrote speeches for Ban.

On June 18 the South Korean Mission's spokesperson told Inner City Press the "note" was provided to the Office of Ban Ki-moon's Spokesman Stephane Dujarric upon request. See below. On June 20, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq about it, and about North Korea's "invitation" to Ban. Video here. UN Transcript here:

 Inner City Press:  I'd asked Stéphane on… on Friday about a note that was put out by the South Korean mission, and he'd ended the exchange by saying:  "Ask them."  So, I did.  And one of the things I asked them is… is how this note was prepared or… or how it was that what Stéphane read here was almost identical to the note from the mission.  And they've responded.  Their Deputy Spokesman had said that the note was provided to the SG's office and the UN's Deputy Spokesman's office at their request.  I guess I'm just wondering, since the attempt was made to sort of say, this is totally separate; we don't coordinate speeches, remarks…

Deputy Spokesman:  And we don't.

Inner City Press:  So what was the purp-… in what context did your office request this note from the South Korean mission and…?

Deputy Spokesman:  We… it's because you asked at these briefings, so you asked Stéphane.  And as a result of you asking Stéphane, he asked the mission what they were saying.  We wanted to know because…

Inner City Press:  The reason I ask, what he read out, before I'd asked, before I had any chance to ask the question was identical to the note so it seems like…

Deputy Spokesman:  No, I would doubt that, because, ultimately, what Stéphane wanted to do is know what they were telling you.  You know, obviously, once they gave us what they told you, we took note of that, and so we have that now.  But, it was in response to the fact that you were asking about it.

Inner City Press:  So, it was after Friday's Noon Briefing.

Deputy Spokesman:  It was after whenever you asked.  I mean, you've asked a couple times about this.

Inner City Presst:  No, I asked about the note on Friday. ...Last week the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] said that they'd sent a letter to Ban Ki-moon, which is interpreted by people as an invitation to visit, and I think as of that time you said you hadn't seen it.  Has it now… has this letter been received?  And what do you say to various commentators who say Ban Ki-moon would benefit… this is a direct quote… “enhance his political position as a future Presidential candidate by making such a visit”?

Deputy Spokesman:  We don't have any visit to announce.

Inner City Press:  Do you have the letter?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe the letter has been received.

   As Inner City Press has published, it has sourcing inside the South Korean Mission which contradicts that, describing requests through MOFAT / MOFA to write “remarks” for Ban. And, just as one example, when Inner City Press started delving into Ban, the invitation and persuasion to stop came from South Korea's then-deputy ambassador to the UN, Kim Bong-hyun.

And so on June 17, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, video here -- and then the South Korean Mission reached out, wanted to know the identity not only of the Deputy Ambassador (no problem, Kim Bong-hyun) but also of the source on the speechwriting, email below , Vines here and here and here, UN Transcript:

The email:

From: byung-ha chung
Date: Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 7:12 PM
Subject: Inquiry about your questions at the today's noon briefing
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Dear Mr. Matthew Lee,

I hope this email finds you well.

On behalf of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the   United Nations, I am writing to you, as a press officer of the Mission, to make an inquiry about the two questions you raised during the noon briefing today.

First, you said that the Korean Mission has played a role in writing
speeches for the Secretary-General. I hope you can share with us
specific grounds that lead you to such an understanding.

Secondly, you also said that you were once asked to speak to a Deputy Peramanent Representative of the Korean Mission and the purpose of the
meeting was essentially to tell you how to write about the
Secretary-General... I would like to ask you to clarify who you actually met. Could you identify the DPR you met in that context?

I hope you kindly understand that this inquiry is for clarification about the questions you raised, which are related to the Korean Mission, not for complaints...

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.


Byungha Chung, Minister Counsellor
Premament [sic] Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations

Inner City Press replied with a name, and some questions:

"The Deputy Permanent Representative was Kim Bong-hyun. As a journalist I cannot and will not divulge the identity of the person who has provided a detailed account of requests for the Mission to write Ban Ki-moon speeches / remarks - but the source is impeccable.

Now a question for you, as Mission press officer: please confirm or deny that the statement issued by the Mission, below, was coordinated in any way with or provided to (and when) the Office of the Secretary General and/or Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General and describe all such contacts in the past 12 months.

  Also, please describe the Mission's role in the Secretary General's recent visit to South Korea, from the meeting with the Kwanhoon Club to the other events including DPI / NGO conference." While these question weren't answered in twelve then 18 hours, Inner City Press waited to publish them until this reply was received and is published in full:

Dear, Mr. Lee, Thank you for your quick and candid response. I appreciate that.

Regarding your first question, let me tell you that the note, not statement, was prepared for and distributed to Korean Media Correspondents in order to help them understand Mission's basic position on some issues they questioned. The note was also provided to SG office and UN spokesman's office later at their request.

Secondly, as the other Missions to the UN normally do when the Secretary-general visits their home countries, the Korean Mission provided administrative and protocol supports for the preparation of all his official schedules in Korea, which my Permanent Representative also attended.

I hope this can be some answers to your questions. Sincerely, Byung-ha Chung

From the June 17 transcript: Inner City Press: yesterday, the South Korean mission here put out a statement in Korea to the Korean press denying a number of things, saying that it was nothing inappropriate about the mission setting up meetings for the Secretary-General with South Korean top political figures we've discussed here.  Here's the one I wanted to ask you about.  They directly denied that the mission has played any role in writing speeches or remarks for the Secretary-General.  And I'm asking you this because I know someone who did just that at the mission.  So, I want to ask you directly, to your knowledge, does the… has the Secretary-General had speeches or remarks written by staff members or advisers to the South Korean mission?

Spokesman:  To my knowledge, no.  The Secretary-General has a full and excellent staff of speechwriters who work for the United Nations and who work for him and who write his speeches, whether he's delivering them in Korea or whether he's delivering them in New York.

Inner City Press:  we'll see, because there's somebody that says that they did it.  But what is the role of the mission in setting up meetings with… for the Secretary-General?  I think you'd said that the mission suggested a meeting…

Spokesman:  Right.  And I think it's not unlike any other mission, when political leaders from other countries come and they want to meet the Secretary-General, it is the mission that they represent who suggests meetings.  And then it's up to the Office of the Secretary-General to accept or deny those meetings.  I think it's completely natural.

Inner City Press:  I was once… I… asked to speak to a Deputy Permanent Representative of the South Korean mission and the purpose of the meeting was essentially to tell me how to write about Ban Ki-moon and how…

Spokesman:  That's a question between you and the permanent mission of…

Inner City Press:  Seems like… it seems to implicate Ban Ki-moon.  He's not aware of that?

Spokesman:  That's what… I will stop there because we're getting into…

Inner City Press:  What?

Spokesman:  Into an issue that's between you and that permanent mission.  Thank you all.  Have a wonderful weekend, and I hear the ambassador of Spain behind me. 

On June 6, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Ban reportedly bringing his campaign to New York City, Video here; UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Has the Secretary-General requested to meet with a leader of the Minjoo party as is reported in The Korea Times.  It said it's at his request.  And it is being read it's the first time he's meeting with a leader of such a party, that its nine years here and its being put in the context of a possible run for presidency.

Spokesman:  On the second part of your question, the Secretary-General has said over and over again that he's focused on being SG, and he'll make decisions about his post-SG life once he's reached the post-SG life.  He has met with a number of Korean officials over the nine years.  I think it's not surprising.  He is scheduled to meet with Dr. Lee Hae-chan, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, and a member of the General Assembly… of the National Assembly, and that's… on 8 June, I believe.  It's my understanding that the meeting was done at the request of the mission of… of Korea, knowing that both the… Mr. Hae-chan and the Secretary-General had served in different capacities under the administration of President Roh Moo-Hyun.

Inner City Press:  Because the article says, “Secretary-General Ban asked to have tea with Lee”, and it quotes an official…

Spokesman:  I think I just answered…

Inner City Press:  You're denying it…?

Spokesman:  I… yes, I just answered so… thank you.

Question:  Can we get a readout of the meeting?

Spokesman:  We'll see what we can get.  Dujarric never returned with any information, but Inner City Press was contacted and learned things. On June 10 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: you said the Secretary-General was meeting with Lee Han-Chan.  I wanted to know, I didn't see a readout and I’d seen a report in the Korean media that the meeting was cancelled.

Spokesman:  It was canceled at the request of the former prime minister.

Inner City Press:  I wanted to know, the Hwanlun [sic] club transcript, I guess it's not going to be provided.  But, I've been contacted by somebody who was there who has provided a direct quote, which I guess is on the record, basically in which he said, contrasting himself with candidates for Presidency in the United States, he said, "Candidates running for president in the US are 70 and 76 years old and said I've been running marathons for, like, 100 metres.  No Secretary-General has done it like I did."  So, how would you… Given what he said at the stakeout that he's not running, it seems like to be talking about presidential candidates in other countries and their age, it seems a bit weird.

Spokesman:  I think you're reading too much in very dry tea leaves.  The Secretary-General has said clearly that his focus until 31 December, 11:59 p.m. will be on being Secretary-General of the UN.  He will then decide how best to be a citizen, a global citizen.  He was asked about his age, and he gave the answer he gave.  And I can tell you from the exhausted look on my face that the man is in much better shape than I am, despite being a few decades older.

Inner City Press:  Is there a readout on Sudan, the foreign minister?

Spokesman:  No.

Inner City Press:  Why not?

Spokesman:  I don't have one.  If I have one, I'll share it with you. 

   None has been provided. Ah, transparency. Dujarric refused to comment on his role in Ban's Press eviction and the "Aide Memoire" document, here. During Ban's trip, Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq - his lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric accompanied him for the whole Korea trip -- replied that sometimes Ban gives “exclusives” even to small groups of journalists. But the photo with the Kwanhun Club shows more than a dozen journalists.

So on May 31 Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: the Secretary-General, I saw that when he left South Korea, he said that he’d been misunderstood; there had been too much coverage of his… what was widely, widely reported as his seeming intention to run for President.  And so he said, “I would add that the coverage of what was supposed to be an off-the-record meeting with the Kwanhun Club has led to over-reaction, over-interpretation.”  I forget…  Apparently, you were there.  Was it off the record?  Because I’d asked about it here whether a transcript would be released.  It was said that it would be exclusive sometimes with groups of journalists.  I saw a photo.  It’s like a lot of journalists, like more than a dozen.  If, in fact, it was misunderstood… many people reported it.  They were there.  Was it off the record?  Was it an exclusive?  What did he say?

Spokesman:  There was a meeting that he organized with a group of senior Korean journalists.  Part of it was on the record.  Part of it was off the record.  Whether it’s a one-on-one interview or a group interview, we would not release a transcript.  I mean, we release transcripts of his press conferences.  The basic message from the Secretary-General is that, up until the very last day of the mandate that’s been given to him by Member States, he will focus on being Secretary-General and fulfilling that mandate.  Once that mandate is over, he will then decide how best to be a productive global citizen, but his… that decision will come after he leaves office.

Inner City Press:  But since he’s the Secretary-General now, I wanted to ask you about that 1946 General Assembly resolution.  There seems to be a resolution that’s still on the books that says that, even… particularly right after retirement, a Secretary-General should not have a position in a Government, given confidences he’s received from Governments.  So that’s on the books now.  Does it apply?

Spokesman:  Obviously, he’s aware of the resolution, and the rest is just speculation, because he will make up his mind as to what he will do after his term as Secretary-General ends.  Photo here.

   To read a canned statement purporting to defend press freedom while not only evicting the Press but trying to manipulate the media with different private and public messages is noteworthy. To talk about “authoritarian impulses” while having the investigative Press ousted and its files dumped onto First Avenue is doubly so. Background here.

This while at the UN in New York, the investigative Press has been oust and then evicted, with its long time office being given to Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom, which never comes in, much less asks any questions. Click here for background.

   Ban spoke about freedom of movement, while Inner City Press is now required to have minders in order to cover meetings on the second floor of the UN Conference building, in the ECOSOC and Trusteeship Council Chambers, and has been told not to ask questions of diplomats.

  Ban went out of his way to praise the current African trip of South Korean President Park - he did not mention her Iran trip - and directly addressed South Korean youth, some of whom may be old enough to vote in 2017. Opening speeches, particularly by the national organizer(s), were largely about Ban Ki-moon.

  Those present marveled at how actual NGOs were pushed to the back of the room, with the front rows devoted to South Korean official (including some from the UN). Tweeted photo here, reply here. Will Ban Ki-moon endeavor to live up in New York, in his remaining time at the UN, to what he said at the DPI-NGO conference? Watch this site.

Soon to be ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in his native South Korea, where there is a Presidential election in 2017. On May 19, only to South Korean correspondents, Ban Ki-moon's senior adviser Kim Won-soo said and was quoted that Ban's is NOT a political trip. Clearly it is. Ban's "exclusive" comments to more than a dozen journalists in South Korea, photo here, were not transcribed despite the request of the Free UN Coalition for Access.

But there's a problem: not only Inner City Press -- see article in the Kyunghyang Daily News, robo-translated -- but now The Economist calls Ban Ki-moon the worst and weakest Secretary General ever. What has now been transcribed, in their way, are Ban's remarks to the South Korean organizing committee for the DPI NGO conference, including "make sure that we have education, global education and put all [the] millions[of] children who are out of school [in]. Korea's success in this world is largely owing to quality education. Korean parents, [the] Korean government; they have sacrificed everything in their possessions for quality education for their children."

 Ban made no reference to the scandal in his UN of South South News, Ng Lap Seng and the new constellations about which there is also no due diligence. This does not help development, or the NGO world. We'll have more on this.

 And as Inner City Press has asked basic questions about Ban's use of UN resources and had them dodged, now the media in South Korea is taking notice. The Hankyoreh of May 28, here, reports on Inner City Press asking "whether Ban was aware of UN Resolution II (I), which was adopted at the first General Assembly in 1946 and restricts secretaries-general from taking government positions soon after their term ends... But Haq’s response appeared to be to a completely different question - neither communicating Ban’s response nor mentioning the resolution." Slippery or greasy eel.

(Hankyoreh also says "The unusual spectacle of the Secretary-General’s actions becoming the major issue in a UN briefing - which is typically reserved for major worldwide issues - hints that the controversy over Ban’s political plans could be shaping into an international diplomatic issue." A simple review of recent UN noon briefing transcripts or videos would call this into question - but it has become the party line, as in the New York Times of May 14.)

Meanwhile on May 28 Ban continued his politics, meeting with retired politicians, such as former Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil. On May 29 he'll speak at " Rotary International Convention in Goyang, just outside of Seoul, and visit the ruling party stronghold of Gyeongsang to tour a UNESCO-listed folk village on Sunday." Since these are NOT on his public UN schedule, does it mean they are personal / political? Inner city Press asked - and now the speech, such as it is, has been released: a portion:

"I have attended many events with Rotarians. We have forged warm personal ties. I will never forget taking part in the centennial in Birmingham in the United Kingdom. We arrived to see the flags of more than 150 countries – and the friendly Rotarians in their yellow vests."

The Rotary event has, as at least $25,000 sponsors, KEB Hana Bank and Shinhan Bank. We'll have more on this.

And then the UN DPI NGO conference, on which we'll have more as well. Watch this site.

Ban can and has evicted Inner City Press from its long time office at the UN -- but he can't change the track record, from his victory lap in Sri Lanka in 2009, which Inner City Press reported on, to further damaging the UN's reputation in Haiti by insisting on impunity for cholera, to his negligent overseeing of rapes in the Central African Republic. For the record, what Inner City Press told the Kyunghyang Shinmun, when asked about the eviction and ouster, was not entirely negative. But more on that to follow. 

 On May 27, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I want to ask you about this trip this South Korea.  First, I mean, if you look in today’s DPI [Department of Public Information] clips, virtually all the stories are about Ban Ki-moon running.  There’s one in particular that says the people assisting him with his run.  It names a former South Korean ambassador here, the current ambassador here, which is totally in their freedom to do it.  But it also names Mr. Kim Won-soo.  This is not something the UN is not aware of.  It’s included by DPI in the news clips.  So the question arises — has Mr. Kim sought some kind of guidance from the ethics office what the balance of his time would be, or is it his position that despite public reporting that this is what he’s working on that because you say he’s not, he’s not?

Deputy Spokesman:  He’s working as the head of the Office of Disarmament Affairs.  That’s the work that he does.  If he needs to change that at some point, he would need to let us know.  But right now, this is the work he is doing.

Question:  Again, in the clips that you have, it says that the Under-Secretary-General Kim, one of Ban’s closest confidants, has made frequent reports about domestic situations to Ban.  Is this false?  And is he only doing this about disarmament issues or about what other?

Deputy Spokesman:  He has a range of responsibilities on disarmament work, and that is what he does for the Secretary-General.  That’s his job.

 On May 26, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  I wanted to ask you more about the Secretary-General's trip.  The… the… the press coverage is pretty… pretty… in terms of interpreting what he said and how he's going about things is pretty… almost unanimous in saying that he's trying to send signals that he's going to run for President.  So this is a direct quote I want to ask you about.  The deputy floor leader of the Minjoo party said the latest remarks amount to a de facto declaration of a presidential bid.  And my question in this light is, I know that Mr. Kim [Wonsoo] met with South Korean journalists before the trip occurred.  And, apparently, according to them, he said this is not a political trip.  And what I wanted to know is, first, in what capacity did he met with him?  Did he meet with him as Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament?  Did he meet with him… in a sense, some people see it as sort of political work.  And so I'm wondering, in the same way that Helen Clark has said that she takes leave to do work to run for SG, was he on the clock and what… in what possible capacity was he speaking? 

Deputy Spokesman:  No, he's speaking as a UN official who is talking about a visit… an official visit by the Secretary-General.  The Secretary-General is here in his capacity as Secretary-General.  He is doing things, such as the Jeju Forum and the DPI (Department of Public Information) NGO conference, in his capacity as Secretary-General.  This is not a trip in a private capacity, and he's made very clear, including to reporters in the Republic of Korea, that he will not be acting in a private capacity until he is done with his duties as Secretary-General.

Question:  He said… he says that he's been approached by other world leaders about running, that they've offered their support.  I mean, I'm sure you've read… this is in Korea Joongang Daily.  They quote a number of reporters at this meeting and he says things well beyond what you're saying from here.  And so… I mean, he can do whatever he wants, whatever the resolution says.  But my question… again, I want to go back… Is there any consideration… Mr. Kim's work, was this done in his capacity as Under-Secretary-General of disarmament or as sort of… he used to be Deputy Chief of Staff.  Is he still performing that role?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, he's not.  The Deputy's Chief of Staff is Patrick Carey.  When there are delegations who go on trips, sometimes they speak to reporters about the trip.  That's the case with that.  The spokespeople do that, as well.  In this case, he was talking about the trip, and he was trying to make it very clear that this is not a political trip.  And that is something that we echo from here.  Good afternoon, everyone. Oh, okay, one more.

Question:  Can I ask one more question, just a factual… this is unrelated.  It's unrelated but just… the other day, I was coming in through the metal detectors.  And there was a long student group coming through.  It's not what you think I'm going.  I'm going somewhere else.  There was a student that had on a Bernie Sanders button and the guard said, "Take it off.  There's no political statements allowed in the UN."  I wanted to know, is that really the case?

Deputy Spokesman:  Security are told that there're not supposed to be political slogans or political banners brought into the United Nations.  I don't, frankly, know how they enforce it on a case-by-case basis, but the standing rule is that you're not supposed to bring in any sort of political slogans or banners in.

Question:  Right.  I guess… do you… maybe you don't have it offhand.  Tell me what the rule is so I can look into whether it applies to a button.

Deputy Spokesman:  I do think that depends on the individual judgment of the security guard, whether a button counts or not.  I am, of course, wearing a button right now for Peacekeepers Day, although, presumably, that's a nonpartisan button, and hopefully, that passes the standard.  We shall see when I exit.

   Ban is responsible for his Under Secretaries General, from Herve Ladsous to Cristina Gallach. In Jeju Ban said: 

"Sri Lanka is overcoming political conflict. [Torture continues]]
"Myanmar is undergoing a peaceful democratic transition [Ban's Renata Lok-Dessalien hides from human rights]

One saying I frequently practice writing is 上善若水 which means, “The highest virtue is to act like water.”  Water Now

Water like the drip of corrption at the UN under Ban Ki-mon, and  like his attempt to drown the critial Press. We'll have more on this.

A senior Ban administration official more loyal (as they should be) to the UN than Ban tells Inner City Press it seems clear Ban is considering a run in South Korea and that what is is doing and not doing at and through the UN these days is "all about that." 

Ban wants to be sure not to be connected to the major and expanding UN bribery scandal that as occurred on his watch. Indictments, guilty pleas, inconvenient pictures of Ban with Francis Lorenzo, John Ashe and even Ng Lap Seng.  It now appears that for Ban to run would violate the General Assembly's Resolution of January 24, 1946, on the Terms of Appointment of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, 4(b).

 On May 25, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: this has come up during the Secretary-General's trip in South Korea.  People are citing a GA (General Assembly) resolution that was passed in January 1946, which says, quote, “because the Secretary-General is a confidante of many governments, it is desirable that no member should offer him at any rate immediately upon retirement any governmental position”.  And so they're saying that this is… essentially, it's a GA resolution and that comments now made in Jeju, but the idea of Ban Ki-moon running for President of Korea in 2017 would be contrary to a GA resolution.  I'm sure he's aware of this, the mayor of Seoul, a former human rights lawyer, has raised it.  Others have raised it.  What is his response to how this GA resolution applies to his situation?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the Secretary-General's response to this entire topic is one that he made clear even today, where he said that right now he's not considering the idea of what he does next after he ceases to be Secretary-General.  Right now he is going to focus on his work as Secretary-General.  It's at the start of next year that he'll actually have the time and the ability to think about other things.

Inner City Press:  I'm sure you've seen all the headlines.  All the headlines say that his statement that… that beginning 1 January, he will be back as a South Korean… is taken… I mean, and I understand you can say he's taken, but it doesn't seem unfair to say this is a GA resolution.  Does he acknowledge that this is the resolution?   And, two, it seems to say immediately… especially immediately upon retirement, this should not be done.  So is he saying… what's his response?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't really think that there's any point in trying to read into his words more than what he's said.  Right now the idea is he's not considering any sort of post-UN activity.  You know, he won't take up that issue until the following year.  .

"Because a Secretary-General is a confidant of many governments, it is desirable that no Member should offer him, at any rate immediately on retirement, any governmental position in which his confidential information might be a source of embarrassment to other Members, and on his part a Secretary-General should refrain from accepting any such position."

Inner City Press on May 24 asked about a / the new sponsor of the DPI NGO conference without Ban's Deputy Spokesman proffering an answer. Also on May 24, Inner City Press asked the Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, about the trip and transparency, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: There's a report today in the Korea Herald, again, speculating… you know, and that's speculation, whether he may run for President.  But I wanted to ask you this.  They said that… that… that, upon his arrival on Wednesday, Mr. Ban will meet with members of an association of senior journalists and was likely to field questions on his political ambitions.  I wanted to know, does your office intend to put out a transcript of that type of meeting?  And I'm asking because the same article says that, quote, “Ban had told Korean correspondents in New York that he would appreciate if they, quote, ‘help him bring to a successful conclusion his service as UN Secretary-General’”.  And I never saw that quote.  Was that… did he actually say that, or was that Mr. Kim?  Was there some… how does it work…?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, sometimes the Secretary-General conducts interviews.  As you know, sometimes, they might even be with small group interviews.  Those aren't the same as press conferences.  We will provide transcripts of all press conferences and press encounters, but interviews, of course, are exclusives for the journalists involved, and so we don't have a transcript put out for those.

Inner City Press:  So this thing coming up Wednesday upon his arrival in Jeju, is that a press conference, or what is it?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe that's a group interview, but like I said, if there's press encounters, we'll put those transcripts out. 

A number of people in the UN directly connect Ban's ouster and eviction of Inner City Press, which has asked about nepotism (see, the son in law running UNFPA Kenya, and the nephew who worked for the company managing UNDP's building, and promising more) to a desire to prevent or discourage coverage of and inquiry into Ban's role in the Ng Lap Seng scandal.

Ban and his team try to deflect this by saying, as Kim Won-soo has, that it is all Cristina Gallach, you have to talk to Cristina - how? On May 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who's said to be preparing to accompany and spin Ban's six (or four) day trip to South Korea

video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I know that Mr. Kim [Won-soo] did a briefing for South Korean media, I guess, last week trying to say that the upcoming trip has... you know, is in no way indicative of a desire to run for President by the Secretary-General, but there have been other stories including one... I don't know if it's today or yesterday... in the Korea Times saying that several of the Secretary-General's former associates still in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs intend to create a foundation in his name saying that Mr. Yoon Yeocheol is now the protocol officer of the President and very much saying it's a six-day trip that it's hard to conclude that it isn't in some way related to the upcoming campaign.  Is... what's your... first of all, is Mr. Hyun now the protocol officer of President Park [Geun-Hye]?

Spokesman: This may come as a shock to you, but I speak for the Secretary-General and for the United Nations.  I have no... I have a tough enough time keeping tabs on what people do in this organization that I don't know what people do for the Foreign Ministry.

Inner City Press:  Okay [Yoon].

Spokesman: I think your question assumes a lot of things.  The Secretary-General has made it clear that his focus remains and will remain on his job as Secretary-General.

Inner City Press:  It seems fair to ask, is there... is he aware or are you on his behalf aware of attempts to set up a foundation in his name?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware.

Inner City Press:  Then why is it six days?

Spokesman:  Why is it six days?

Inner City Press:  Yeah.

Spokesman:  He's not going there... he's going there for one day in Jeju Island, and then he's going to the G7.  He has one personal day as he's allowed to take to see his family, because he does have family there.  And then the next days are spent speaking at the DPI/NGO conference.

Question:  [Inaudible: Rotary]

Spokesman:  And the Rotary International as well.

Others have noted that while Ban quickly moved to apologize when a (Korean) reporter was jostled at the South Korean mission, he has had nothing to say about Gallach's oust and eviction orders, the physical ouster of Inner City Press from the UN, audio here, and dumping of five boxes of its files on First Avenue. Others note that Ban has had the South Korean mission write speeches he has delivered as "UN" Secretary General. More on this to follow.

For ten years as Inner City Press covered the UN in ever greater detail, showing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Herve Ladsous' inept overseeing and cover up of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, disparate treatment in Mali, dalliance with genocide in Sri Lanka and prospectively Burundi, impunity for cholera deaths in Haiti and until now for UN lead poisoning in Kosovo and cravenly pro-Saudi position on Yemen amid the airstrikes, it was never thrown out of the UN.

Now it has been, and even as groups like the Government Accountability Project tell Ban to reverse the eviction and give Inner City Press back its long time office and Resident Correspondent pass, Ban's UN tellingly move to award Inner City Press' office to Egypt state media Al-Akhbar / Akhbar Elyoum.  Tweeted photograph here.

On May 19, a sign for "Al Akhbar Yom" went up on Inner City Press' office - Inner City Press has STILL never seen the correspondent being given the stolen office. The UN says Resident Correspondents must be at the UN three days a week, but Inner City Press has never seen this person, former UN Correspondents Association president Sanaa Youssef, much less asking a question in the UN noon briefing.

Scribes speaking off the record according to the New York Times of May 14 "accused [ICP] of printing gossip, rumors." That UNCA's president rented an apartment to Palitha Kohona then granted his request to screenin the UN his government's war crimes denial film is no rumor or gossip.

But Akhbar Elyom, to which Gallach's and Ban's MALU and UNCA have given Inner City Press' office, not only gets journalists in Egypt attested - it targets, with a "Muslim Brotherhood" smear, a journalist who works right in the UN. Arabic article here.

This is the journalism that Ban Ki-moon and his Cristina Gallach want and reward. By taking away Inner City Press' office, it is now required to have a minder and is told to not ask diplomats questions. This is censorship.

Akhbar Elyom has been used to finger for imprisonment non-state journalists in Egypt. For example, in July 2015 Aboubakr Khallaf, the founder and head of the independent Electronic Media Syndicate (EMS), “was arrested after a news article was published by the government-owned daily Akhbar Elyoum.” (Article in Arabic here.)

According to CPJ, Khallaf's EMS “trains and supports journalists who work online in Egypt. The syndicate operates independently from the state-recognized Egyptian Journalists Syndicate...
The local press freedom group Journalists Against Torture and the local Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said Khallaf was also accused of 'taking pictures and displaying artistic works without a license,' among other allegations. A 1998 executive order states that individuals conducting audio and audiovisual work must have a license from the Ministry of Culture. According to AFTE, the accusation is in connection with Khallaf photographing the funeral of Hisham Barakat, Egypt's prosecutor general who was assassinated late last month."

There are many echoes of this in Ban's UN: as simply one example Ban's Under Secretary General for Public Information Cristina Gallach telling Inner City Press it takes photographs of things that "are not newsworthy." There are more, and more examples of Akbar Elyom.

Only when it questioned Ban's and its PR official Cristina Gallach's roles in the John Ashe, Ng Lap Seng and Francis Lorenzo UN bribery scandal did Gallach order Inner City Press ousted then evicted, and now try to give its office to an Egyptian media which rarely or never asked questions. Ban Ki-moon claimed “That is not my decision,” but that is not true.

  The New York Times on May 14 covered the story. But they did not in their long process report, because it happened at the end, that Ban Ki-moon and Gallach are moving to give Inner City Press' long time office to Egyptian state media, Al Akhbar / Akhbar El-Yom / Akher Saa, to a correspondent Sanaa Youssef who most even on the UN press floor have never seen.

Her "in" seems to be that she was a previous president of the UN Correspondents Association, now become the UN's Censorship Alliance. As one respected usual UN interlocutor put it, "it would be a hugely negative symbolic step for Egyptian state media to replace Inner City Press in the UN."

 A longtime UN correspondent who spotted her moving in on Inner City Press' office noted she had not been seen before; the name was confirmed by UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit, which refused to provide the waiting list or describe the rationale.

But this is Ban's and Gallach's UN (click here for a Spanish take on Gallach's tenure.) We are beginning to report this now because it has proven nearly impossible to reach Al Akhbar / Akhbar Al Yom - the telephone numbers listed online are disconnected, or private homes; the correspondent at UNCA address has been unresponsive. The absurdity of this has been directly raised to Ban Ki-moon, his Deputy and Chief of Staff with enough time to stop it. We'll see.

  For now from the NYT we note this quote: “It’s not exactly the same access,’’ Mr. Dujarric said, “but if he has an issue, there is a staff of media liaisons to help him resolve the problem and get where he needs to go.”

  This is false. As Inner City Press has raised to Ban Ki-moon, "even when begrudgingly accompanied by a staff member of your Spokesperson's office, UN Security refused to allow me through the turnstile onto the second floor of Conference Building. I have been told not to ask questions of diplomats, just after you came out of ECOSOC and even with a MALU minder / escort with me, a UN Security official stood directly in front of me, apparently so I couldn't even try to ask you a question. This is censorship."  We await response.

Audio hereBan, when asked, said “that is not my decision.” But he heard about the ouster and eviction in advance and ok-ed it.

On April 16, the acting chief of Gallach's “Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit Tal Mekel oversaw the eviction of Inner City Press' office, leaving five boxes of its files out on First Avenue. Video here.

Some in Ban's team indicated to Inner City Press its office would be left empty until its four month “purgatory” or punishment-for-reporting period was over.

That was a lie: on May 13, after Inner City Press asked more questions about Ban's engagements with John Ashe and Francis Lorenzo - president of South South News which paid UNCA and still has a UN office - Inner City Press was informed that its long time office is being given out.

   When Inner City Press asked to see the supposed waiting list, this was refused by Mekel. It is apparently entirely up to Gallach - or UNCA - who is given UN office space, without which one cannot access the UN Conference Building's second floor, see below.

On May 13 as the UN Security Council began a meeting about Lebanon, the glass doors to enter the Council were locked. Apparenlty the UN can't afford one guard for a Security Council meeting, but won't provide information requested by the Press about Ban Ki-moon's endless and largely fruitless travel.

   Inner City Press, which covers the UN corruption scandal and was ousted then evicted by an official implicated in the scandal, Cristina Gallach -- see OIOS audit Paragraphs 37 to 40 and 20(b) -- with Ban Ki-moon's full knowledge, was unable to get to the Security Council stakeout. Its pass, cut by Gallach, won't open the turnstile at the other end of the stakeout. This week a guard there even refused to allow Inner City Press through to a stakeout with a staffer of the Spokesperson's office.

   Gallach, at least according to some paid to tweet for the UN, is in Washington. So Inner City Press undertook to document the restrictions and censorship. Another UN system spokesperson tried to undermine it, as did UN Security. They claimed everything is fine, even as Security Council Ambassadors asked them how can it be that the door is locked (and Press excluded). Some Security write-up began, sure to omit all of this. Watch this site.


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