Kim Jong Un: The pain turns to anger

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Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with NK News, a website that monitors North Korea, said that "the report in Korean has characterized Kim's climb up to Mount Paektu on horseback as a new 'myth'". "The pain the USA -led anti-DPRK hostile forces inflicted upon the Korean people is no longer pain, but it turned into their anger".

Kim's trip to Mt. Paektu has prompted speculation that a major event or decision is forthcoming.

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

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rides a horse during snowfall in Mount Paektu in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 16, 2019.

The symbolism goes back to Kim Il Sung (1912-94), who, according to the North's official narrative, rode a white horse while fighting Japanese colonial rulers.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is another leader who has riden horses, to project an image of strength.

Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore in June, failing to agree on a deal to lift sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

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"The situation of the country is hard owing to the ceaseless sanctions and pressure by the hostile forces inflicted upon the Korean people", Kim said, adding that the country will continue to progress despite the sanctions.

"Whenever the enemies try to strangle us with the chain of pressure, we should pave the way with our own efforts to continue 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", he said.

"For people outside North Korea, Kim is showing that he won't give into the sanctions pressure to make concessions in negotiations with Washington". The sanctions have been toughened since 2016 when Kim began conducting a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests, and they include a full ban on key exports such as coal, textiles and seafood and a significant curtailing of oil imports.

Since then, relations have cooled and Kim has said he will wait only until the end of the year for the USA to soften its stance in denuclearisation negotiations before North Korea pursues an unspecified new path forward. While North Korea argued that talks between the two shut down, the State Department said the "U.S. brought creative ideas and had good discussions". That would enable the North to show its economic and technological power in a less provocative way than by testing an ICBM.

North Korea's lifting of its self-imposed moratorium on major weapons tests would be a blow to Trump's re-election campaign, as the president has boasted that the moratorium is a big foreign policy achievement.

Kim Jong-un has been known to make trips to the sacred mountain ahead of important policy shifts or undertakings, and the current one may contain inherent symbolism regarding the country's course of policy for 2020, as the country faces worldwide sanctions and pressure over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

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