After the two leaders pledged new steps aimed at salvaging nuclear talks on Wednesday, Moon and Kim decided to use the final day of their three-day summit to go up the symbolic mountain on the Chinese border together, presstv.ir reported.
Moon is known for his love of mountain climbing and has trekked in the Himalayas at least twice. The president has long stated that he would love to one day visit Mount Paektu, which is also sometimes spelled Baekdu.
“I have a dream that I have not been able to fulfill for a long time, which is trekking Mount Paektu and the Kaema Plateau,” Moon said during a banquet after his first summit with Kim in April, which took place at the demilitarized zone separating the two neighbors.
“I believe Chairman Kim will make that dream come true for sure.”
Moon flew separately to the region before joining Kim and taking a cable car together to Heaven Lake, a caldera at the top of the mountain, and walked around the area along with other officials from both sides, Moon’s office said.
As the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula at about 2,750 meters above sea level, Mount Paektu is the mythical origin of the Korean people.
Although Mount Paektu straddles the North Korea-China border and can be reached from China, where it is known as Changbai Mountain, Moon had never visited it before.
‘Sacred mountain of revolution’
An active volcano, Mount Paektu is dotted with secret camps and historical sites from Korea’s guerrilla war against the occupying Japanese in the 1930-40s, in which Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, played a leading role.
North Korea says Kim’s grandfather and father, Kim Jong-il, were born at Mount Paektu.
A copy of an article of the North’s official newspaper Rodong Sinmun dated December 26, 1980 calls Mount Paektu a “sacred mountain of revolution” spearheaded by Kim Il-sung “in the flames of the arduous 20-year anti-Japan struggle.”
Moon’s parents fled the North during the 1950-53 Korean War, shortly before Moon was born in South Korea in 1953.
A former human rights lawyer, Moon said in a 2017 book published months before his election as president that he wanted to “finish his life” in his mother’s North Korean hometown doing pro-bono service.
“When peaceful reunification comes, the first thing I want to do is to take my 90-year-old mother and go to her hometown,” Moon wrote in the book.