Kim Jong-un’s Luxurious Bulletproof Train Journey to Russia

In November 2009, South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo reported that the armoured train featured around 90 carriages…reports Asian Lite News

In a rare trip to meet President Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un on Tuesday arrived in Russia on board his bulletproof train — a slow-moving luxury locomotive which said to include a restaurant serving fine French wines imported from Paris and dishes such as fresh lobster, with dancers and performers to entertain the high-profile travellers, a media report said.

According to the BBC report, the green train with a yellow stripe train named ‘Taeyangho’, the Korean word for the sun and a symbolic reference to North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung, runs along at a speed of about 50km/h because of its heavy armoured protection.

In comparison, London’s high-speed rail runs at about 200km/h while Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains can hit 320 km/h.

The BBC said that Kim Jong-un spent more than 20 hours travelling some 1,180 km on the slow-moving locomotive.

A report by South Korean Yonhap News Agency citing the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Tuesday that that Kim Jong-un had left Pyongyang for Russia aboard the bulletproof train on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by leading officials of the regime’s ruling party and the armed forces.

The KCNA said Kim “left here by his train on Sunday afternoon to visit the Russian Federation”.

Meanwhile, Russian media outlet “Vesti Primorye” also reported that Kim’s train arrived at the border city of Khasan on Tuesday and was on its way to the Far Eastern city of Ussuriysk, citing a railway source.

The train passed through Khasan station early Tuesday and is already in the Primorsky Krai region, according to the Russian media report.

In November 2009, South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo reported that the armoured train featured around 90 carriages.

It also had conference rooms, audience chambers and bedrooms, with satellite phones and flat-screen televisions installed for briefings.

The tradition of long-distance travel via train was started by Kim Il Sung — Kim Jong-un’s grandfather — who took his own locomotive on trips to Vietnam and Eastern Europe, the BBC report said.

The luxurious trains are said to be heavily guarded by security agents who scan routes and upcoming stations for bombs and other threats.

Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong Il, who ruled North Korea from 1994 until his death in 2011, took 10 days to get to Moscow in 2001 to hold a meeting with Putin.

Russian military commander Konstantin Pulikovsky, who accompanied the former North Korean leader on the 2001 ride, said his memoir “Orient Express” that “it was possible to order any dish of Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French cuisine”, the BBC reported

He wrote that live lobsters were transported to the train to ensure the availability of fresh delicacies, while cases of red wine from Bordeaux and Burgundy were also flown in from Paris.

Even Putin’s private train “did not have the comfort of Kim Jong Il’s train,” he said.

Another former Russian diplomat, Georgy Toloraya, wrote in 2019 about his experience of travelling on the same 2001 train ride, about dishes considered delicacies such as donkey meat and abalones being flown in from Pyongyang.

Russian Standard vodka was also a fixture.

Both Russians described performers and singers entertaining guests aboard the train.

According to North Korean state media, Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack while travelling on the train in 2011.

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