Slow, luxurious and equipped with gadgets worthy of James Bond the armored train known as “the walking fortress” is the means of transportation used by the leader North Korean Kim Jong Un will enter Russia on Tuesday, where he will meet with President Vladimir Putin.
Why does Kim Jong-un travel by train?
Like Stalin before them, the heads of state of the Kim dynasty always tried to avoid air transport, which was very fragile. Kim Jong Un follows the tradition started by his grandfather Kim Il Sung and continued by his father Kim Jong Il.
In this armored train he traveled to Beijing in 2018 and to Hanoi the following year, for a summit with his American counterpart Donald Trump. The trip took about 60 hours. In 2001, his father spent 24 days going back and forth from Pyongyang to Moscow, a journey of about 20,000 kilometers.
A Russian officer on board, Konstantin Pulikovsky, described the beauty of the carriages, where lobster and French wine were served. According to the official version, it was on his train that Kim Il Sung died of a heart attack in 2011.
There are even rumors that Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, He avoids flying by plane and travels by train.
What is Kim Jong-un’s train?
Manufactured in Pyongyang in many nearly identical copies, Kim’s train is fully armored, from the windows to the floor, to protect it from gunshots and explosives. It also has “assault weapons and a helicopter for emergencies,” according to information from the South Korean Ministry of Unification.
However, due to all these materials, the train cannot travel more than 60 km/h. The train offers much higher safety conditions than an airplane, where “the chances of survival are greatly reduced” in the event of an attack, emphasized the South Korean ministry.
It can turn around in the event of unforeseen events and its itineraries are “harder to predict” than an airline’s. To increase security, Pyongyang has requested on other occasions to deploy security forces along the route, as happened when visiting Hanoi in 2019.
Has Kim Jong-un ever boarded a plane?
Unlike his father, who had a phobia of airplanes, Kim Jong.n did not refuse to fly. There was even a propaganda film where he was seen at the controls of a device in 2014. The North Korean leader used the plane three times to travel abroad: twice to China and once to travel to Singapore, host at a summit. with Trump, in 2018.
The North Korean presidency has an official plane, the Chammae-1. The device, whose name comes from a symbolic bird of the country, is an old Soviet-made Ilyushin-62, according to specialists, and does not necessarily meet all the guarantees of reliability.
For the 2018 summit, Chammae-1 flew from Pyongyang to Singapore, but was used as a decoy because Kim Jong Un was not on board. The North Korean leader is on a fake Air China commercial flight. The Boeing 747 took off from Pyongyang with the number CA122, on a regular route to Beijing. During the flight, it changed direction and reference towards Singapore, according to data from the Flightradar24 website.