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Kim Jong Un is traveling to Russia to meet Putin in an armor-plated luxury train. Take a look inside.

kim jong un topper
A composite image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April 2019, and a satellite image of his armored train parked at a station near Wonsan in late April 2020.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is traveling by train to meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin. 
  • Kim rarely travels abroad, but this train appears to be his favored mode of transport when he does.
  • Previous accounts and footage show it to be filled with French wine and plush leather seats.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has begun his trip to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean media reported Monday, and he's reported to be taking his family's lumbering, luxurious, high security train, 

Kim used the train to travel to Russia when the two leaders met in 2019, which was the North Korean dictator's last trip abroad. He also used it that same year to travel to Vietnam to meet then-President Donald Trump.

As well as abroad, the armored train is his favorite mode of transport when traveling within North Korea and has provided important clues in the past about the reclusive leader's location. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicting reports emerged about the health of Kim after he disappeared from the public eye for months, with rumors suggesting that he had either died or was gravely ill.

But it became clear he was just hiding out at one of his luxury resorts during the coronavirus pandemic after satellite images captured his armored train parked in the coastal town of Wonsan.

Not much is known about the Kim family train, a 21-carriage, khaki green train with a distinctive yellow line running across it.

But previous accounts and footage show it to be filled with imported French wine and plush leather seats. Photos from North Korean state media also provide a rare look inside the unusual vehicle.

Take a look inside:

In 2019 Kim took the train on the same journey he's making this week to meet Putin in Vladivostok.
Kim train
Members of the North Korean delegation prepare Kim Jong Un's train for the departure at the railway station in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 26, 2019.

That year, Kim's nuclear weapons were top of the agenda. This year, Putin will likely be seeking a weapons deal.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's armored train was pictured parked at a station by the coastal town of Wonsan in 2020— a sign experts said he was laying low at one of his resorts during the coronavirus outbreak.
kim jong un train wonsan.JPG
Kim Jong-un's train is seen parked near Wonsan, North Korea on Wednesday, a sign that experts say show he may be alive and hiding out from the coronavirus in the resort town.

Source: Reuters

The pictures of his train, as well as luxury boat movements, suggested he was alive and spending time in Wonsan during the coronavirus outbreak.
wonsan complex.JPG
Kim Jong Un's Wonsan complex is seen in a satellite image with graphics taken over Wonsan on April 21, 2020.

According to Reuters, Kim has a seaside compound in Wonsan which includes several guest villas, a private beach, a basketball court, a horse riding track, a $7 million luxury yacht, and a private train station. 

Source: Business Insider

The train appears to be his preferred method of transport. In 2019, on some of his last foreign trips, he took the train to attend high-profile meetings in Russia and Vietnam.
Kim Jong Un Vietnam
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un arrives at the border town with China in Dong Dang, Vietnam, February 26, 2019.

The North Korean leader also used the family train to travel to China on his birthday in January 2019, and in March 2018.

Kim has a 40-year-old, Soviet-made Ilyushin Il-62 plane, which has been deemed too unsafe to fly in the past.

When Kim borrowed a Boeing 747 plane from Air China to fly to Singapore for his first meeting with Trump in 2018, people mocked him for his apparent reliance on Beijing.

When Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, used the train, officials would shut down power to other lines so nobody could get in his way.
kim jong un train wave
Kim Jong Un waves from his train in China in March 2018. It's not clear whether this was taken as he arrived or departed.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

The train has an average speed of just 37 mph — likely because every carriage is bulletproof, making it much heavier than a regular train.
kim jong il train
Kim Jong Il's train seen parked at a railway statin in Ulan-Ude, Russia, in August 2011.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo, The New York Times

Here's the train pulling into Beijing in March 2018. This trip had been highly secretive at the time, but people speculated from the train that it was Kim visiting China.
Kim Jong Un train
Police officers keep watch next to a train at the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, China.

This was Kim's first-ever trip outside the country as North Korea's ruler.

Source: Business Insider

It also has a red-carpeted ramp on which the supreme leader can board the train.
kim jong il boarding train
Kim Jong Il enters the carriage via the ramp at the Bureya railway station in Siberia, Russia, in August 2011.

During his trip to Russia in April 2019, however, the train accidentally overshot a red carpet laid out in advance for Kim's entrance, Business Insider's Alex Lockie reported.

The North Korean leader's security detail was forced to stand holding a ramp while the train repositioned.

Read more: Kim Jong Un's meeting with Putin was delayed by a red carpet gaffe that derailed his grand entrance

Here's the red carpet ramp from another angle. The woman in the picture is Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong, who often accompanies her brother on foreign trips.
kim yo jong
Kim Yo Jong at the Dong Dang railway station, Vietnam, on February 26, 2019.

When outlets started reporting that Kim was either gravely ill or dead, many speculated that his sister or his uncle would succeed him.

You can read more about Kim Yo Jong here.

Inside one of the carriages are pink leather chairs with small wooden tables in between. Here's Kim, his wife Ri Sol Ju, and other officials sitting on them.
kim jong un train inside
This carriage looks long enough to fit at least 20 people.
kim jong un china visit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles as he paid an unofficial visit to Beijing, China, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 28, 2018. KCNA/via Reuters
Apart from the color of the chairs, the design inside the train carriages doesn't seem to have changed much since the reign of Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un's father and predecessor.
kim jong il train desk

The elder Kim also had a flat-screen TV, wooden desk, and a computer at the end of one of his carriages.

The desk and computer are now being preserved at Kim's mausoleum in Pyongyang. It's not clear where the TV is.

This 2011 shows what the train was like when Kim Jong Il was leader:

Source: The New York Times

Kim Jong Un also conducts official business on the train. This still from a 2015 video shows him speaking to officials in an all-white conference room during a domestic trip.
kim jong un train conference room
Unlike his father, however, Kim seems to prefer using Apple MacBooks to desktop computers.
kim jong un train macbook
Still from a 2015 video.

Kim Jong Un is known to be an Apple fan.

Kim Jong Il used to travel in opulence — he stocked his train with Bordeaux and Burgundy red wines, silver chopsticks, and whatever else he fancied from around the world.
kim jong il train
Kim Jong Il and Konstantin Pulikovsky, centre, near Vladivostok in July 2001.

This is according to Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian official who travelled with the late North Korean leader in the early 2000s — when the rest of North Korea was reliant on humanitarian aid after years of famine.

Source: The New York Times

"It was possible to order any dish of Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and French cuisine" on board, Pulikovsky said. This undated footage shows a section of the train's dining carriage under Kim Jong Il's reign, which has reportedly since been renovated.
kim jong un train dining car
Undated footage of North Korean officials in a dining car on the Kim family's personal armored train.

Watch a video of the dining car here:

Source: The New York Times

It's not clear whether Kim Jong Un stocks the train as opulently as his father did. But he's not known to be one to skimp — he reportedly enjoys Swiss cheese, Cristal Champagne, and Hennessy cognac.
kim xi toast
Kim toasts with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in March 2018.

Source: The New York Times

He was caught taking smoke breaks during his lengthy train ride to Vietnam in February 2019, with his sister holding a crystal ashtray for him.
kim sister Kim Yo Jong
Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader's sister, holding a crystal ashtray out for him.

Source: Business Insider

As Kim leaves North Korea for the first time in 4 years, all eyes remain on the train.
kim jong un train to china
Kim greeting people from his train in January 2019.
Read the original article on Business Insider

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