North Korea issued a cold wave alert Wednesday, forecasting strong winds and heavy snow over the weekend amid keen attention from the outside world about whether leader Kim Jong-un will again visit Mount Paektu on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of his ascension to power.
Extreme cold weather is expected from Friday night to Sunday, with the temperature in the region of Mount Paektu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, likely to drop to as low as minus 35 to minus 40 degrees Celsius on Saturday morning, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
Kim has a history of visiting the mountain, considered one of the most sacred places in the country, ahead of major political decisions, reported Yonhap news agency.
Speculation arose that he could do so again in the run-up to a plenary session of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party later this month where the North Korea could announce its key domestic and foreign policy directions for the new year.
This month’s meeting comes as North Korea is set to mark the 10th year since Kim took over the helm of the reclusive regime. The 37-year-old formally rose to power on December 30, 2011, 13 days after his father Kim Jong-il died.
In October 2019, Kim rode a white horse to visit Mount Paektu — eight months after his failed summit with the US in Hanoi — and slammed Washington for imposing “ceaseless sanctions and pressure” on Pyongyang.
He visited the mountain again in December that year followed by a four-day plenary session of the ruling party at which Kim said he no longer sees a reason to stick to his earlier commitment to suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests.