North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s recent tour to Mount Paektu to visit historical sites might have gone unnoticed but for a flurry of photos showing Kim on the back of a white horse, leading the way through snowy terrain.
KCNA, North Korea’s official news agency, has released 71 photos, illustrating what seems to be every step of the North Korean leader’s trip to the mountain.
Accompanied by dozens of high-ranking military and party officials, likewise horse-mounted or not depending on the stage of the journey, Kim “looked round the revolutionary battle sites” in the area on Tuesday.
Apparently impressed with the views, Kim called for additional winter tours to the mountain, demanding they be carried out not as a sight-seeing quest, but “in a substantial way to help the participants directly experience how harsh the ordeals” endured by the guerrillas were.
Kim seemingly took a taste of it nomadic life himself, with one photo showing him, encircled by officials, warming up his hands at a makeshift fire.
However, the photos that garnered the most attention were those of Kim astride a white stallion.
The images predictably sent Twitter into meltdown, as North Korea watchers scrambled to read into the occasion. Some argued that the trip is meant as a warning to Washington, as Pyongyang’s year-end deadline for the US to adopt a friendlier posture in negotiations inches closer.
He’s back. At Mt. Paektu. On a white horse. More signs/symbolism/warning from Kim Jong Un that all is not well with US-North Korea relations given a year-end deadline for negotiations. https://t.co/nLBpThAtsO
— Janis Mackey Frayer (@janisfrayer) December 4, 2019
In a thinly-veiled threat on Tuesday, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Thae Song said that it was “entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
The recent visit was not Kim’s first mountain horse ride on Pektu. Back in October, similar photos of him on a horse set social media alight, opening a floodgate of memes and resulting in far-reaching speculations about what it could mean for Pyongyang’s policies.
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