North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has arrived in Russia for a meeting with Vladimir Putin using an unconventional mode of transportation – a luxurious and heavily armored train. The train, painted a distinctive shade of green, is the dictator’s preferred means of travel, continuing a tradition started by his grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
On Sunday, Mr. Kim boarded the train alongside officials from Pyongyang’s arms industry, military officers, and the country’s defense minister. The train is said to offer an abundance of luxuries, and pictures from state media showcase the opulent interiors, including glossy white rooms with long tables for meetings and red leather armchairs. The train also features conference rooms, audience chambers, and bedrooms equipped with satellite phones and flat-screen televisions for briefings.
According to Russian official Konstantin Pulikovsky, who traveled with Kim Jong-il, the train offers a gourmet menu with a wide variety of dishes from various cuisines. Pulikovsky’s book, Orient Express, describes cases of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, live lobsters, and entertainment provided by young female singers referred to as “lady conductors.”
The train is reported to consist of a total of 90 rail cars and carries armored Mercedes cars for the leader’s use. These railcars have undergone extensive modifications and employ armoured sheets for increased protection. The train’s maximum speed is believed to be around 55 miles per hour, with a cruising speed below 40 mph.
While traveling by train can be inconspicuous compared to air travel, this particular train faces challenges due to the difference in gauge size between Russia’s rail network and the Korean Peninsula. When Kim reached Khasan station, which serves as the main rail gateway to Russia’s far east, the train would have needed a lengthy stop to change wheels.
Security measures are also strict, with approximately 100 security agents dispatched to railway stations in advance to conduct security sweeps. Power is deliberately shut off at these stations to prevent other trains from departing. Additionally, the train operates in conjunction with two other trains – one dedicated to security checks and another for bodyguards and personnel.
This unique mode of transportation allows Kim Jong-un to travel discreetly, away from the prying eyes of flight-tracking data or radar. However, the slow speed and logistical complications associated with the train demonstrate the lengths North Korea goes to ensure the safety and comfort of its leader.
As the North Korean and Russian leaders convene, the world watches to see what discussions will transpire regarding Russia’s need for more weapons and ammunition to supply its war machine in Ukraine. While the specifics of their meeting are unknown, one thing is certain – Kim Jong-un’s preferred mode of transport makes quite the statement.