John Halligan says his proposed trip to North Korea was purely about creating cultural ties.
The suggestion was met with widespread criticism after it surfaced in November, although the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would not be stopping members of the Independent Alliance at the airport.
The Minister of State for Training and Skills says he had no intention of going there on Dáil time or taxpayers' money.
Minister Halligan told WLR how the proposal came about in the first place.
He said: "Years ago in Waterford, there were over 200 people came from North Korea to Waterford. Most of them were children, community activists and some politicians.
"They took part in our Fleadh Ceoil. It was a throwaway remark that was made by Finian McGrath to me, when all this tension was breaking, he said 'did we not have contact with North Korea on cultural grounds at one stage?'
"And that is all it was about, I personally think it was blown out of all proportion."
- Digital desk