French wine, lobster BBQ: Inside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's 90-coach bulletproof train
Kim Jong Un's extravagant 90-carriage bulletproof train offers a glimpse into his lavish travel experience, complete with French wine and delectable lobster barbecues. The North Korean leader is said to have reached Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has embarked on a historic journey to Russia, traveling from Pyongyang to Vladivostok on his luxurious armored train for a summit with President Vladimir Putin. This marks Kim's first international visit in over four years, breaking his travel hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as reported by The Guardian.
Kim's train journey covered a distance of 1,180 kilometers (733 miles) and took approximately 20 hours, adhering to a longstanding tradition followed by North Korean leaders. Kim is known for his preference for train travel when it comes to international trips. However, his green-and-yellow train operates at a slower speed, about 50 kilometers per hour (31 miles per hour), significantly slower than modern trains.
The enigmatic dark green train comprises 90 carriages, featuring tinted windows that conceal the identities of its passengers. Each carriage is fully bulletproof, adding significant weight to the train. The train also boasts a restaurant offering expensive French wine and a menu that includes live lobster and pork barbecue. In addition, it is equipped with conference rooms, audience chambers, bedrooms, satellite phones, and flat-screen televisions for briefings.
Why does Kim Jong-un travel by train?
This tradition of long-distance train travel can be traced back to Kim Jong Un's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who initiated it during his train trips to Vietnam and Eastern Europe. Notably, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's father and predecessor, had a well-known fear of flying, taking 10 days to reach Moscow in 2001 for a meeting with Putin.
Security around these opulent trains is highly stringent, with security agents closely monitoring routes and stations for potential threats like bombs. Kim Jong Un continues to embrace this tradition, believing that the armored train provides both security and luxury compared to air travel.
For instance, during his journey to meet President Donald Trump in Vietnam, Kim covered approximately 4,500 kilometers in his train, taking two-and-a-half days, as reported by NPR. Russian military commander Konstantin Pulikovsky praised the train's opulence, mentioning that passengers could order dishes from a variety of cuisines, including Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and French.
Interestingly, Pulikovsky noted that even President Putin's private train did not match the comfort of Kim Jong Il's train.
Experts speculate that President Putin may be seeking artillery shells and antitank missiles from North Korea for Russia's involvement in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kim is reportedly looking for advanced technology for satellites and nuclear-powered submarines, as well as food aid for his nation, which faces economic challenges. He is accompanied by unspecified members of North Korea's ruling party, government, and military.