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North Korea encouraging tourism to Mt. Baekdu during pandemic Updated: 2021-01-19 14:33:02 KST

Mount Baektu gets not only a thick blanket of snow this time of year it also gets hundreds of thousands of visitors.

"We are almost there We've got this "

Even in the brutal weather and temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius, North Koreans, including soldiers and ordinary citizens, march up the highest mountain on the Korean Peninsula.

"On this hike, I felt how tough the hardships must have been for our countrymen who fought against Japan, and I also learned how much love I have for my nation."

The North has been promoting the so-called Mount Baektu March since late 2019 when leader Kim Jong-un toured the site on horseback.
State media have called on people to experience the kind of cold that will "take off their ears and freeze their hands and feet" in order to learn the "toughness and belligerence" of what it calls the "patriotic martyrs."
It could seem an odd time to encourage tourism when the regime has strengthened its anti-virus measures to the highest level.
That includes shutting down the border and even executing a COVID-19 rule-breaker.

"The North is trying to show off that it's free of COVID-19 by encouraging people to take this trip, but it has the strategic purpose of strengthening solidarity within the regime by passing on what it sees as the area's revolutionary spirit."

The mountain is dear to North Koreans as a place the regime claims as the birthplace of its late former leader Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, and as a symbol of the regime's legitimacy and internal unity.
Mount Baekdu is also said to have been a key military base for the North's founding leader, Kim Il-sung.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in became the first South Korean leader to visit the place in 2018 together with Kim Jong-un.
There, President Moon said he hopes the day will come soon when people from the southern side of the DMZ can freely go there too.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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