The luxury train Kim Jong Un rode to Russia is bulletproof, the connoisseur cognac aboard is about 80-proof — and the ride is slow enough that nary a drop would spill from a crystal glass.
(Bloomberg) — The luxury train Kim Jong Un rode to Russia is bulletproof, the connoisseur cognac aboard is about 80-proof — and the ride is slow enough that nary a drop would spill from a crystal glass.
The forest-green train has been a favored mode of transportation for North Korea’s leaders, including Kim’s father and grandfather, for decades. Those traveling aboard the train are treated with gourmet meals, and it’s seen as a far safer way to travel in splendor for the rare trips abroad from a country whose flagship airline has been rated as the worst carrier in the world.
Kim’s trip of about 680 kilometers (423 miles) from Pyongyang to the Russian outskirts of Vladivostok was estimated to have taken 20 hours, which would put it at a pace slower than the average speed of the winner of the Tour de France bicycle race. But it’s much easier to eat lobster thermidor in a posh dining car than pedaling at breakneck speeds.
Read more: Kim Jong Un Crosses Into Russia for Rare Summit With Putin
North Korea’s luxury train is equipped with the communications equipment and gadgets necessary to function as Kim’s “moving office,” South Korea’s Yonhap News reported.
The train has a special compartment for transporting Kim’s bulletproof Mercedes-Benz limousine, South Korean broadcaster YTN said. Kim’s exclusive compartment is lined from ceiling to floor with iron plates to protect against bomb attacks, such from explosive devices set along the tracks, it said.
The few glimpses North Korea state media has given from inside the train show Kim at his desk with a laptop and TV monitor. There is also a car for meetings with plush leather chairs that appear to be a shade between pink and purple.
Kim took the train to Russia for his last summit with Putin about four years ago. Before that, he made a 60-hour journey to Vietnam to meet former US President Donald Trump for a summit in Hanoi. Kim took a Boeing 747 airplane provided by China when he met Trump for the first time in 2018 in Singapore.
The private train for the leader consists of 90 carriages, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported in 2009 based on intelligence reports. There are two separate trains to defend that travel ahead and behind — with one handling reconnaissance and the other security, it said.
Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, had allowed a rare foreign visitor aboard the train. Russian official Konstantin Pulikovsky published an account of his trip, describing the sampling of French wine, extravagant banquets and song sessions with “beautiful lady conductors,” the New York Times reported. Kim Jong Il was once the world’s largest purchaser of Hennessy Paradis cognac and liked to have some bottles aboard.
There are few accounts from outside North Korea of riding the train with current leader Kim Jong Un. He has been seen outside the train when it stopped, puffing away at a cigarette.
–With assistance from Shinhye Kang and Takaaki Iwabu.
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