Hiking Route for Presidential Assassins Now Open to Public

North Korean terrorists used the path behind the Blue House to infiltrate Seoul 52 years ago.

Hiking Route for Presidential Assassins Now Open to Public

Photo: President Moon Jae-in (right, in blue) reviews the newly opened Bugak-san hiking path with trekker Um Hong-gil (right, in white).  Credit: Website of the Office of the President.

On November 2, President Moon Jae-in 문재인 opened to the public the Bugak-san Mountain 북악산 hiking path behind the Blue House 청와대 for the first time since the notorious Kim Shin-jo affair 김신조 사건 in 1968. ‌‌

On January 21, 1968, a band of 31 North Korean guerrillas infiltrated Seoul in an attempt to assassinate then-president Park Chung-hee 박정희. Approaching the Blue House from the northwest through the Bugak-san, the guerrillas reached within hundreds of yards of the presidential residence when they engaged with the South Korean police and military. After a firefight that also killed two civilians, 29 of the North Korean guerrillas died, one escaped, and one was captured alive. The sole survivor Kim Shin-jo 김신조 immediately told his captors: “Our mission was to decapitate Park Chung-hee.” (Kim, who was since pardoned, is now a baptist pastor in Seoul.) Since then, the northern Bugak-san hiking path behind the Blue House - also known as the Kim Shin-jo Route - has been closed to the public.‌‌

An avid hiker who has climbed Mt. Everest and Annapurna, Moon Jae-in had promised that he would open the Bugak-san hiking path to the public. The president personally led the inaugural public hike, along with the famed trekker Um Hong-gil 엄홍길 who has summited  all 14 peaks of the Himalayas.‌‌

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