Kim’s horseback ride spurs policy shift speculation

SEOUL: New pictures of Kim Jong Un riding a white horse through a winter landscape to the summit of Mount Paektu, a sacred peak for North Koreans, have fuelled speculation that the young leader may be set for a major policy announcement.
The images released by the official KCNA news agency were accompanied by a gushing text, that noted the “noble glitters” in Kim’s eyes, and labelled his snowy, horseback ride “a great event of weighty importance” for the nation.
Accompanying officials were left convinced that “there will be a great operation to strike the world with wonder again and make a step forward in the Korean revolution,” the agency said.
Analysts said the hike may signal a new policy direction for the nuclear-armed North.
“In the past, Kim has climbed Mount Paektu ahead of major political decisions,” said Shin Beom-chul, an analyst at the Asan Institute of Policy Studies.
Kim hiked to the peak in December 2017 before launching diplomatic overtures that led to his first ever summit with US President Donald Trump.
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. — AFP