Some images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un riding a white horse in the snow of Mount Paektu, the sacred mountain for the country, located on the border with China, triggered rumors about an important political announcement in the coming hours.
To these images, released on Wednesday by the North Korean national press agency KCNA, adds a text that describes the horse ride as a “major event of fundamental importance” for the country. According to the agency “there is going to be a great operation that will surprise the world and mean a step forward in the Korean revolution.”
Analysts felt that this horse ride could predict changes. “In the past, Kim went to Mount Paektu always before an important political decision,” said Shin Beom-chul of the Asan Institute of Political Studies in Seoul.
For example, Kim was on this mountain in December 2017, before a diplomatic opening process that allowed, among others, a historic summit with US President Donald Trump.
However, these negotiations did not advance in recent months and North Korea increased diplomatic tension with a series of missile tests.
For B.R. Myers, an expert in North Korean propaganda and a professor at Dongseo University in South Korea, these images have an imperial aftertaste and speak of a protective leader of the nation’s purity against the foreign forces that want to corrupt it. Kim’s father and grandfather were also fond of these prints on horseback between snowy peaks.
Kim also visited the place where a large construction project is carried out, at the foot of Mount Paektu, according to KCNA, where he lamented the economic difficulties the country is experiencing due to international sanctions.
The situation in our country is difficult due to incessant sanctions and pressure from hostile forces,” Kim said, according to the agency.
The North Korean regime claims that both its founder and son Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader and former dictator of the communist country, were born on Mount Paektu to highlight the family’s bloodline in power. It is not a casual allusion: according to Korean mythology, it was the birthplace of Dangun, the legendary founder of Gojoseon (2333 BC-188), the first Korean kingdom.
The current dictator also visited the site in 2013 before executing a series of senior officials, including his uncle Jang Song Thaek. In November 2014, he went to Paektu to mark the end of the three-year period of mourning declared by the death of Kim’s father and former leader, Kim Jong-il, and the execution of his political uncle and “number two” of the regime Jang Song-thaek. In 2016, he visited the mountain after the fifth nuclear test of the regime.
The current situation marks the brake on talks with the US: Pyonyang has accused Washington of not modifying its position on nuclear disarmament and demanding steps to the regime without offering relief from sanctions or security guarantees at meetings held does more 10 days in Stockholm. North Korea has interrupted the dialogue and said that in principle it does not plan to meet again in the Swedish capital in the next few days as the US had proposed.