'Defiant message' as North Korea's Kim rides white horse on sacred mountain

'Defiant message' as North Korea's Kim rides white horse on sacred mountain

'Defiant message' as North Korea's Kim rides white horse on sacred mountain

KCNA described Mr Kim's most recent horseback march as a "great event of weighty importance in the Korean revolution".

It was unclear what the operation might involve, but Mr Kim had often reportedly made trips to the sacred mountain at times of major policy endeavours, including the 2013 execution of his powerful uncle and his 2018 entrance into diplomacy with Seoul and Washington.

KCNA added: "All the officials who accompanied him to the top of the mountain felt overflowing emotion and joy and convinced that there will be a great operation to strike the world with wonder again and advance the Korean revolution a step forward".

The government-run agency also said that during a visit later that day in Samjiyon County, Kim lamented over the USA -led United Nations sanctions that were imposed after nuclear talks broke down. The white horse is also an important symbol, as Kim Jong Un's grandfather, Kim Jung Sung, supposedly rode a white house while fighting Japanese colonialism.

The white horse is also a propaganda symbol for the Kim family, which has ruled North Korea for seven decades with a strong personality cult surrounding family members.

USA diplomats met with North Korean officials in Stockholm over the weekend, days after Pyongyang test-fired an underwater-launched missile.

Evoking fellow strongman Vladimir Putin's barechested horse-riding bravado in 2009, Kim chose to keep his shirt on, opting for this season's brown fur-lined winter coat as he charged fearlessly through the first snows of Mount Paektu, his reclusive country's most sacred peak.

There have been other horse-riding leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was photographed riding a horse bare-chested, and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who took part in horse races and erected a massive monument featuring his likeness atop a golden horse.

"The situation of the country is hard owing to the ceaseless sanctions and pressure by the hostile forces, and there are many hardships and trials facing us", Kim said, according to KCNA.

"But our people grew stronger through the trials and found their own way of development and learned how to always win in the face of trials."

In separate remarks released Wednesday after a trip to construction sites in nearby Samjiyon county, Kim had a message of defiance for the United States, and a vow that his country would prosper despite global sanctions.

"Whenever the enemies try to strangle us with the chain of pressure", Kim said, the country should make greater efforts to "live well under the banner of the great spirit of self-reliance so that the enemies feel a pain in their stomach and head".

North Korea has carried out 11 rounds of missile launches since early May, including the test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile on October 2. After the talks, North Korea criticized the United States for sticking to its conventional stance. But negotiations have been gridlocked since a second summit between Kim and Trump collapsed in February and the North has been raising tensions through a series of missile tests.

Pyongyang and Washington restarted working-level talks this month in Sweden only for it to quickly break down, with the North blaming the U.S. for not giving up its "old attitude". North Korea blamed the US for the breakdown and threatened to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.

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