Seoul, South Korea – North Korea released a series of photos on Wednesday showing how leader Kim Jong Un rose on a white horse onto a sacred mountain he often climbed before making important decisions. Near the mountain, Kim reportedly vowed to overcome US-led sanctions that he said would have hurt and angered his people by making concessions to nuclear diplomacy.
The photos showed a bespectacled Kim in a long, light brown coat riding up the snowy Mt. Paektu on a horse. The mountain, the highest point on the Korean peninsula, is sacred to the North Koreans, and both he and the white horse are symbols associated with the Kim dynasty.
Kim previously visited Mt. Paektu before he executed his powerful uncle in 2013 and graduated in 2018 with South Korea and the United States.
The photos were published days north by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Korea's first nuclear talks with the US for more than seven months collapsed.
The South Korean media quickly speculated that Kim might consider a new strategy in his negotiations with the US, as he had previously demanded from Washington new proposals to rescue deadlocked diplomacy by the end of December.
He sat on horseback on Mount Paektu and remembered with great emotion the path of the arduous struggle he undertook to build the most powerful land with faith and will, as firm as Mount Paektu, "it says North Korean documents.
Kim's grandfather and national founder Kim Il Sung had an anti-Japan guerrilla base on Paektus during the Japanese colonial rule of 1910-45 on the Korean Peninsula, the official biography of Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il states that the second generation leader was born on Paektu when a double rainbow filled the sky.
The white horse has also been a propaganda symbol for the ruling family of Kim North Korea for seven decades with a strong personality cult The state media have occasionally shown Kim, his sister, and his father on white horses back to Kim Il Sung, who has ridden a white horse in the fight against Japanese colonialists, according to the official story of the North.
There were other leaders of riding, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was photographed on a bare-chested horse, and Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who participated in horse racing and built a massive memorial bearing his image on a spike showed golden horse.
KCNA said Kim also visited nearby construction sites in Samjiyon district and complained about US-led UN sanctions imposed on his country for his nuclear and missile programs.
"The country's situation is difficult because of this. The incessant sanctions and the pressure of the enemy forces and the many difficulties and trials we face," Kim was quoted as saying. "But our people have become stronger through the processes and have found their own way of development and learned how to always win against processes."
Kim also said "the pain felt by the US-led anti-North Korea enemy forces inflicted on the Korean people … transformed into their anger," says KCNA. "No matter what persevering efforts the enemy makes, we can live well with our own efforts and pave the way for development and prosperity in our own way."
North Korea has been subject since 2006 with eleven rounds of sanctions. The sanctions have been tightened since 2016, when Kim embarked on a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests, and include a complete key ban on exports such as coal, textiles and seafood and a significant restriction on oil imports.
During his second summit with President Donald Trump in February in Vietnam, Kim called on the United States to lift the newer and more pungent sanctions to dismantle its main product core complex, a limited denuclearization step. Mr. Trump declined and the summit collapsed without agreement. The two leaders held a brief, spontaneous meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.