North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rode a white horse up a sacred mountain on his second symbolic visit in less than two months, state media reported Wednesday.
The symbolism-heavy photos come as nuclear talks with the United States are stalled and with a looming end-of-year deadline set by North Korea for some kind of concession from Washington.
The Korean Central News Agency released many photos showing Kim taking a horse ride to snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife Ri Sol-ju and other top lieutenants, all on white horses.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rides a horse as he visits battle sites at Mount Paektu in Ryanggang alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju, released by the KCNA on December 4
Kim Jong Un rides a horse alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju as he visits battle sites at Mount Paektu
The Korean Central News Agency released many photos showing Kim taking a horse ride to snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife and other top lieutenants, all on white horses
Analysts say that pictures of Kim at Mount Paektu – a physically dramatic location that is ubiquitous in North Korean imagery – represent assertions of leadership and legitimacy, given the historical background.
He tends to visit once or twice a year, trips that are sometimes seen as indicators of policy changes.
Kim went to the area in November 2013, ahead of his purge and execution of his once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek.
He climbed the mountain in December 2017, shortly before the diplomatic rapprochement that led to his Singapore summit with Donald Trump – the first between leaders of the North and the US.
Kim also climbed the mountain, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, on horseback in mid-October.
Analysts say that pictures of Kim at Mount Paektu – a physically dramatic location that is ubiquitous in North Korean imagery – represent assertions of leadership and legitimacy, given the historical background
Leader Kim visits battle sites at snow-covered Mount Paektu alongside other top lieutenants
Kim visits Mount Paektu area. North Korea says leader Kim has taken a second ride on a white horse to a sacred mountain in less than two months
Mount Paektu and white horses are symbols associated with the Kim family’s dynastic rule. Kim has made previous visits there before making major decisions.
Kim said that ‘we should always live and work in the offensive spirit of Paektu,’ according to KCNA. ‘The imperialists and class enemies make a more frantic attempt to undermine the ideological, revolutionary and class positions of our party.’
On Monday, Kim visited Samjiyon county at the foot of Mount Paektu to attend a ceremony marking the completion of work that has transformed the town to ‘an epitome of modern civilization,’ KCNA said. It said the town has a museum on the Kim family, a ski slope, cultural centers, a school, a hospital and factories.
Samjiyon was one of main construction projects that Kim launched in an effort to improve his people’s livelihoods and strengthen his rule at home. The construction spree has also been seen as a demonstration of his power in the face of international sanctions designed to squeeze his economy and get him to give up his nuclear program.
Kim and other top lieutenants walk along bridge in the snowy Mount Paektu area in pictures heavy with symbolism
Kim visits Mount Paektu alongside top lieutenants. Kim said that ‘we should always live and work in the offensive spirit of Paektu,’ according to KCNA
Kim speaks to lieutenants as he visits Mount Paektu area. The North’s Foreign Ministry warned Tuesday it’s entirely up to the United States to choose what ‘Christmas gift’ it gets from the North
The latest mountain trip comes as a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to come up with new proposals to salvage nuclear diplomacy is approaching. The negotiations remain stalled for months, with North Korea trying to win major sanctions relief and outside security assurances in return for partial denuclearization steps.
The North’s Foreign Ministry warned Tuesday it’s entirely up to the United States to choose what ‘Christmas gift’ it gets from the North. North Korean officials have previously said whether North Korea lifts its moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear tests depends on what actions the U.S. takes.
Last week, North Korea test-fired projectiles from what it called a ‘super-large’ multiple rocket launcher that South Korea’s military said landed in the waters off the Norths’ east coast.
Kim stops for a photo as he visits Mount Paektu. The latest mountain trip comes as a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to come up with new proposals to salvage nuclear diplomacy is approaching
KCNA said Wednesday the ruling Workers’ Party will hold a central committee meeting in late December to discuss unspecified ‘crucial issues’ in line with ‘the changed situation at home and abroad.’ It’s unclear what specific agendas are at stake.
Many experts say the United States is unlikely to make new proposals that would satisfy North Korea.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged Kim to follow through on what he described as a promise to denuclearize the North. Trump and Kim have met three times since North Korea entered nuclear negotiations last year.
‘My relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good, but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreements … he said he will denuclearize,’ Trump said during a visit to London. ‘Now, we have the most powerful military we ever had, and we are by far the most powerful country in the world and hopefully we don’t have to use it. But if we do, we will use it.’
Trump also revived a nickname he had previously given Kim when he traded crude insults and threats of destruction during a provocative run in North Korean nuclear and missile tests in 2017.
Kim ‘likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he?’ Trump said. ‘That’s why I call him Rocket Man.’