North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has ridden a white horse across a sacred mountain on his second symbolic visit there, state media reported on Wednesday, as his country threatened provocation if the United States failed to make concessions in nuclear diplomacy by year’s end.
The Korean Central News Agency released undated photos showing Kim riding on snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife and senior officers, also on white horses. Kim also climbed the mountain, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, on horseback in mid-October.
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.”
The latest trip comes as a year-end deadline set by Kim for Washington to come up with new proposals to salvage nuclear diplomacy approaches.
North Korea’s foreign ministry warned on Tuesday that it was up to the US to choose what “Christmas gift” it gets from Pyongyang.
North Korean officials have previously said whether North Korea lifts its moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear tests depends on what actions the US 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.
KCNA said on 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 was not clear what specific agendas were at stake.
Many experts say it is unlikely the US would 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 denuclearise the country.
“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 denuclearise,” 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 of nuclear and missile tests by North Korea in 2017.
Kim “likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he?” Trump said. “That’s why I call him Rocket Man.”