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.