Kim Jong-un takes the family train to meet Vladimir Putin

Kim Jong-un’s trip from North Korea to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin is said to be the first time he has left his country in years – and he did it aboard a special train passed down from his grandfather to his father.

The train is his preferred method of travel outside of the country, and photos released by state media show a military honour guard and a crowd of people waving flowers and flags as he boarded.

Just like Putin’s train, Kim’s train is said to be special, though most of what we know about the train is from the time his father, Kim Jong-il, ruled.

Whenever Kim Jong-il travelled by rail, three trains were part of the escort, according to a 2009 report out of South Korea, based on local and US intelligence.


The train at the front dealt with security checks, the middle train carried Kim Jong-il and the final train was for bodyguards and support personnel.

Kim’s train travels at an average speed of 60 km/h. Around 100 security agents are sent ahead of time to stations and sweep the area for bombs,” the 2009 report says.

“Before Kim’s train nears the station, the power on other tracks is shut off so that no other trains can move.”

It has been suggested that Kim Jong-un uses three trains when travelling, just like his father, totalling up to 21 carriages in the escort, NPR reported.

Kim Jong-il died in 2011 and back in 2009, it was believed there were 90 carriages in total as part of his escort (and some 20 stations built specifically for his use).

The carriages are reportedly bulletproof and thus very heavy, which is why the train travels at a relatively slow pace.

Inside Kim Jong-un’s train

On a few occasions, state media has released footage that shows the inside of Kim’s green and yellow train.

In 2018, Kim embarked on his first trip outside of North Korea after coming in to power and state media released footage from inside the train.

Chinese officials were seen sitting on plush pink sofas onboard the train and according to NPR there are bedrooms onboard and a conference room.

According to the Washington Post, Russian official Konstantin Pulikovsky once travelled on the train with Kim Jong-il and wrote about how there was a gourmet menu, live lobsters and plenty of booze.

There were also reportedly female singers for their entertainment and “lady conductors”.

The details of Kim Jong-un’s train seem pretty tame in comparison to Putin’s train.

Putin reportedly has a gym and spa on his armoured train, however, there’s a chance there are more amenities on Kim’s train we just don’t know about.

Interestingly, the reason North Korean leaders travel by train is all thanks to Joseph Stalin.

Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung was gifted a train from Stalin and his son, Kim Jong-il, was famously terrified of being shot down while in a plane, NPR reported.

Ironically, Kim Jong-il was on a train when he died from a suspected heart attack.

Kim and Putin’s meeting

Kim departed Pyongyang for Russia on Sunday and has reportedly arrived to meet Putin.

The Kremlin has said the two leaders will dive into a “comprehensive” discussion.

“It will be a full-fledged visit,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“There will be negotiations between two delegations, and after that, if necessary, the leaders will continue their communication in a one-on-one format.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prior to their talks at the Far Eastern Federal University campus on Russky island in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 25, 2019.

Kim Jong-un has reportedly not left North Korea in years.

Putin was expected to arrive in Vladivostok on Tuesday, where he was scheduled to attend the main session of the Eastern Economic Forum, which runs through Wednesday.

Weapons talks

His meetings with Kim were expected to be on the sidelines of the forum, although there has been no confirmation of the location or whether Kim would attend the event.

US officials, who first said the visit was imminent, said that arms talks between Russia and North Korea were actively advancing and that Kim and Putin are likely to discuss providing Russia with weapons for the war in Ukraine.

Pyongyang and Moscow have denied that North Korea would supply arms to Russia, which has expended vast stocks of weapons in more than 18 months of war.

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