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Leaders of two Koreas stand atop ‘sacred’ Paektusan

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un strolled around the crater lake of Paektusan, the highest mountain on the Korean Peninsula, on Thursday, accompanied by their spouses.

Moon and South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook left the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, where they had stayed during the three-day visit, at around 6:39 a.m. and boarded a presidential plane at Sunan International Airport. Upon their arrival at the Samjiyeon Airport near the mountain, they were greeted by Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju.

The two first couples took a car and a funicular railway to the highest peak, Janggunbong.

On his flight from Seoul to Pyongyang on Tuesday for the inter-Korea summit, Moon said that he had refused an offer from a friend to climb the mountain from the Chinese side, saying that he wished to one day climb the mountain from the North Korean side. The 2,744-meter dormant volcanic mountain is on the border between North Korea and China.

(Joint Press Corp.)
(Joint Press Corp.)

The mountain has a special meaning for Koreans, both South and North, as the highest peak on the peninsula. In the North, it is considered a sacred place as its history was rewritten to claim that Kim’s father Kim Jong-il was born on the mountain. The ruling Kim family lineage is known as the “Paektu” bloodline.

Kim is said to have visited the mountain before making major decisions, which in recent years included his decision to send delegations to 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the fifth nuclear test in 2016, and the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek.

The entourage accompanying Moon in Pyongyang traveled to Paektusan on a separate flight run by Air Koryo, the North Korean flag carrier.

By Yoon Min-sik (
Korea Herald Youtube