North Korean state media on Wednesday released a series of pictures of its leader Kim Jong-un where in he can be seen riding a white horse on a snow covered mountain considered sacred in the country.
“The beloved oldest leader, Kim Jong- un, climbed the mountain” read the caption with the eight photographs accompanying an article published by the state-owned KCNA agency.
The article said that Kim Jong-un “climbed up Mt Paektu, riding a white horse through the first snow.
“It is a great event of weighty importance in the history of the Korean revolution,” and during his ascent, the leader “recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu.”
Kim was accompanied by executives from the Korean National Labour Party Central Committee.
The mountain holds a special place in the country’s identity and is feted as the birthplace of Kim Jong-un’s father.
Experts pointed out that his three previous solo visits to the famed mountain, located at the area bordering China in the northeast of the country, preceded important decisions, reported Efe news.
His previous visit was in December 2017, just before the regime opted to take a diplomatic turn in its relations with South Korea and the US.
The visits in November 2014 and February 2013 preceded, respectively, the end of the three-year period of mourning following the death of Kim’s father and former leader, Kim Jong-il, and the execution of his uncle and the regime’s number two, Jang Song-thaek.
KCNA also posted photos and information from a visit by Kim, accompanied by his sister Kim Yo-jong among other regime officials, to the nearby town of Samjiyon, where a tourist area is being set up.
During the visit, Kim criticised the US sanctions on the country at a time marked by an ongoing stagnation in negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington on denuclearisation.
According to KCNA, Kim said they had to withstand the attempts by their enemies to “strangle us with the chain of pressure, we should pave the way with our own efforts to continue to live well-off in the great spirit of self-reliance.”
Kim’s visits come as talks with the US have hit a roadblock. Pyongyang has accused Washington of not changing its disarmament stance and demanding steps from the regime without offering relief from sanctions or security guarantees during meetings held some 10 days ago in Stockholm.
North Korea has in the meantime considered the talks to have been stalled and said that in principle it had no plans to meet again in the Swedish capital in the coming days as proposed by the the US.