See Pyongyang’s answer to the Apple Store, videogames where Americans are the bad guys, and a picturesque waterfront for fishing - and watching missiles launch. Follow CNN’s Will Ripley as he gets a rare glimpse of everyday life for the privileged in North Korea.
They clutched hands, their wives at their sides, at the top of a sacred peak in what appeared to be a fitting end to a three-day summit.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took South Korean President Moon Jae-in Thursday to Mount Paektu, one of Korea’s most important cultural and geological sites.
Moon’s visit to the mountain was the realization of a dream for the South Korean leader.
“I wondered if I was ever going to have a chance but my wish has come true,” Moon said.
The trip was heavy with symbolism, as Moon is the first South Korean president to visit Mount Paektu and the cerulean lake at its summit from the North Korean side.
Reaching the peak has long been a rite of passage for Koreans, but access to the North Korean side of the mountain long been closed to most living in South Korea. The base of the lake can only be reached from the North.
Moon said he had previously decided not to hike up the Chinese side of the mountain in the hope that he would see it from the first time from the Korean side.
Kim said he hoped Moon would be the first of many South Korean visitors.
“We had a small group today but in the near future, we hope many South Koreans and expats will be able to come here,” the North Korean leader said.
Paektu, a still-active volcano and the highest point on the Korean Peninsula, is considered sacred to many Koreans. The mountain was the birthplace of Dangun, the mythical founder of the first Korean kingdom, according to Korean legend.
“A new history can spring out of this lake. We should soak the history and let it keep flowing so it will not dry up,” Kim said, according to a report of the trip provided to reporters. Both Kim and Moon have employed similar flowery, colorful rhetoric during their meetings this year.
The actual agreements reached during the summit were announced Wednesday, with Kim and Moon reiterating their commitment to bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. The North Korean leader also vowed to shutter a missile testing facility and teased the possibility of closing the Yongybyon nuclear complex, if the United States agrees to “corresponding measures.”
The two leaders ended the day with a viewing of the Mass Games, a highly-choreographed and uniquely North Korean propaganda spectacle involving more than 100,000 performers, with many acting as human pixels flipping colorful cards to reveal images.
The summit ended Thursday with Kim, Moon, their spouses and a handful of top aides traveling to Mount Paektu and posing for pictures. Kim joked that if the South Korean delegation wanted a picture together, he’d take it for them.
The mountain is an important propaganda piece for North Korea, as the Kim dynasty has absorbed its mythology into the family’s own lore and deification.
North Korean society prizes racial purity and state propaganda glorifies the Kim family for their “Mount Paektu bloodline,” which is said to be a noble and heroic lineage tied to the ancient legendary kings of the Korean Peninsula.
Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founder and Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, purportedly used the mountain as a hideout when fighting Japanese occupation. State media often refers to the eldest Kim in reference to the mountain, using titles like the “legendary hero of Paektu.”
North Korea claims Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s later father was born there, but many historians and scholars believe the story was fabricated for propaganda purposes.