Back on the horse: Kim Jong-un takes snowy ride in new photos

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - North Korean official media has released photographs of leader Kim Jong-un riding a white horse on a sacred mountain, in a possible signal of coming policy announcements.

In the photographs released Wednesday, Mr Kim is pictured leading a group of riders, including his wife, in a forest near Mount Paektu.

The mountain, a dormant volcano on the border with China, has great symbolic significance in the North as the spiritual birthplace of the Korean nation and, according to Pyongyang, the birthplace of Kim's father, Kim Jong-il.

Mr Kim toured several historic locations and climbed the mountain, state news agency KCNA said, leaving a "sacred trace in the revolutionary battle sites", through "knee-high, virgin snow".

The agency also released new images of Mr Kim in a light brown coat with a fur collar at the summit of the mountain, to which he also rode in October.

Analysts say that pictures of him at Mount Paektu represent assertions of leadership and legitimacy, given the historical background.

Pyongyang's propaganda says his father was born at a secret camp in the area, where his own father, the North's founder Kim Il-sung, was fighting Korea's Japanese occupiers.

But historians and Soviet records show Kim Jong-il was born in Russia, where his father was in exile.

Mr Kim tends to visit once or twice a year, trips that are sometimes seen as indicators of policy changes.

He went to the area in November 2013, ahead of a purge and the execution of his once-powerful uncle, Jang Song-thaek.

A general view over Township of Samjiyon County during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Samjiyon County, North Korea. EPA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) attending a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) attending a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

A ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

People cheer during a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

North Korea's party and government officials inspecting stuffed fridges in a supermarket during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a Township of Samjiyon County. North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attended the ceremony. EPA

A view of North Korean township of Samjiyon County after its completion. AFP

Residents attending a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

Fireworks during a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (2nd R) cutting a ribbon to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

A dance performance during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a Township of Samjiyon County. North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attended the ceremony. EPA

Skiers watching fireworks during a ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of the township of Samjiyon County. AFP

And he climbed the mountain in December 2017 shortly before the diplomatic rapprochement that led to his Singapore summit with Donald , the first between leaders of the North and the US.

This week, Mr Kim opened a huge development project in nearby Samjiyon, involving the rebuilding of an entire town, which Pyongyang portrays as a demonstration of resilience in the face of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Updated: December 5, 2019 04:23 AM

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