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Pictures | Wed Oct 16, 2019 | 10:45am EDT

Myth-making of Kim Jong Un

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. Aides to Kim Jong Un are convinced the North Korean leader plans "a great operation", state media said in a report that included lavish descriptions and images of the leader riding a white horse up North Korea's most sacred mountain.

In the photos released by state news agency KCNA, Kim is seen riding alone on a large white horse through snowy fields and woods on Mt Paektu, the spiritual homeland of the Kim dynasty. KCNA via REUTERS

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. Aides to Kim Jong Un are convinced the North Korean leader plans "a great...more

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. Aides to Kim Jong Un are convinced the North Korean leader plans "a great operation", state media said in a report that included lavish descriptions and images of the leader riding a white horse up North Korea's most sacred mountain. In the photos released by state news agency KCNA, Kim is seen riding alone on a large white horse through snowy fields and woods on Mt Paektu, the spiritual homeland of the Kim dynasty. KCNA via REUTERS
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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. It was unclear what the operation might involve, but Kim has often made trips to the sacred mountain at times of major policy endeavors

Analysts say the symbolism underscores North Korea standing up to international sanctions and pressure over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

"This is a statement, symbolic of defiance," said Joshua Pollack, a North Korea expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California.

"The pursuit of sanctions relief is over. Nothing is made explicit here, but it starts to set new expectations about the coming course of policy for 2020." KCNA via REUTERS

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. It was unclear what the operation might involve, but Kim has often made trips...more

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. It was unclear what the operation might involve, but Kim has often made trips to the sacred mountain at times of major policy endeavors Analysts say the symbolism underscores North Korea standing up to international sanctions and pressure over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. "This is a statement, symbolic of defiance," said Joshua Pollack, a North Korea expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California. "The pursuit of sanctions relief is over. Nothing is made explicit here, but it starts to set new expectations about the coming course of policy for 2020." KCNA via REUTERS
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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. KCNA via REUTERS

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. KCNA via REUTERS

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. KCNA via REUTERS
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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. KCNA via REUTERS

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. KCNA via REUTERS

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. KCNA via REUTERS
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Kim Jong Un stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the Korean People's Army Naval Unit 167, June 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS

Kim Jong Un stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the Korean People's Army Naval Unit 167, June 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS

Kim Jong Un stands on the conning tower of a submarine during his inspection of the Korean People's Army Naval Unit 167, June 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un views the dawn from the summit of Mt Paektu April 18, 2015, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un views the dawn from the summit of Mt Paektu April 18, 2015, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un views the dawn from the summit of Mt Paektu April 18, 2015, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles during a visit to the Chonji Lubricant Factory, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang August 6, 2014. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles during a visit to the Chonji Lubricant Factory, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang August 6, 2014. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles during a visit to the Chonji Lubricant Factory, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang August 6, 2014. KCNA via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a newly built Pyongyang bag factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) January 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a newly built Pyongyang bag factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) January 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a newly built Pyongyang bag factory in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) January 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in...more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the members of the Korean People's Army in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) May 13, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the members of the Korean People's Army in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) May 13, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the members of the Korean People's Army in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) May 13, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sits in an airplane as he guides a flight drill for the inspection of airmen of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Air and Anti-Air Force in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 30, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sits in an airplane as he guides a flight drill for the inspection of airmen of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Air and Anti-Air Force in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in...more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sits in an airplane as he guides a flight drill for the inspection of airmen of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Air and Anti-Air Force in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 30, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kumsong Tractor Factory in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on November 15, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kumsong Tractor Factory in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on November 15, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kumsong Tractor Factory in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on November 15, 2017. KCNA via Reuters
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North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un visits Taesong Department Store just before its opening,  in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 8, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un visits Taesong Department Store just before its opening, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 8, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un visits Taesong Department Store just before its opening, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 8, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the May 9 Catfish Farm  in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 12, 2015. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the May 9 Catfish Farm in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 12, 2015. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the May 9 Catfish Farm in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 12, 2015. KCNA via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance to Wonsan Baby Home and Orphanage, which is close to completion,  in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 22, 2015. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance to Wonsan Baby Home and Orphanage, which is close to completion, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 22, 2015. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance to Wonsan Baby Home and Orphanage, which is close to completion, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 22, 2015. KCNA via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Songdowon International Children's Camp  in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 6, 2014. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Songdowon International Children's Camp in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 6, 2014. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Songdowon International Children's Camp in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 6, 2014. KCNA via REUTERS
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North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un guides the Korean People's Army Tank Crews' Competition 2017 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 1, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un guides the Korean People's Army Tank Crews' Competition 2017 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 1, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un guides the Korean People's Army Tank Crews' Competition 2017 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 1, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July, 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central...more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts with scientists and technicians of the DPRK Academy of Defence Science after the test-launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July, 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un organizes and guides a combined joint drill of the units under KPA Combined Units 572 and 630 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 23, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un organizes and guides a combined joint drill of the units under KPA Combined Units 572 and 630 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 23, 2014. KCNA/via...more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un organizes and guides a combined joint drill of the units under KPA Combined Units 572 and 630 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 23, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) guides the multiple-rocket launching drill of women's sub-units under KPA Unit 851, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 24, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) guides the multiple-rocket launching drill of women's sub-units under KPA Unit 851, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 24, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) guides the multiple-rocket launching drill of women's sub-units under KPA Unit 851, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) April 24, 2014. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip after a simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 15, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip after a simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in...more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip after a simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile, at an unidentified location in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 15, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at the construction site of Ryomyong Street in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on March 16, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at the construction site of Ryomyong Street in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on March 16, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at the construction site of Ryomyong Street in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on March 16, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (3rd R) and wife Ri Sol Ju (4th L) enjoy an art performance given by the Chongbong Band to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on October 19, 2015. KCNA/via REUTERS

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (3rd R) and wife Ri Sol Ju (4th L) enjoy an art performance given by the Chongbong Band to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this undated photo released by North Korea's...more

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (3rd R) and wife Ri Sol Ju (4th L) enjoy an art performance given by the Chongbong Band to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on October 19, 2015. KCNA/via REUTERS
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