Kim Jong-Un’s Lavish Travels: Inside the Armored Train of the Supreme Leader
When discerning the movements of North Korea’s enigmatic leader, Kim Jong-un, Western spies often turn their eyes to a peculiar and distinctive vehicle – his dark green train. Unlike many world leaders who opt for private planes, Kim Jong-un prefers the old-world charm of his armoured train. This preference has raised eyebrows and heightened intrigue among international observers.
Luxury on Rails
Kim Jong-un’s green train is no ordinary locomotive. It’s a rolling fortress designed to provide the utmost luxury and security for the North Korean leader during his rare international trips. The train’s slow, deliberate pace is a testament to its impregnable armour, making it one of the safest ways for Kim to travel.
The Recent Russian Sojourn
In a recent journey, Kim’s armoured train embarked from Artyom, a far-eastern Russian city around 200 kilometres from the North Korean border. This departure followed a six-day visit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, deepening ties between the two nations and stoking concerns in the West about potential arms deals between Pyongyang and Moscow, particularly concerning the situation in Ukraine.
Inside the train, Kim Jong-un enjoys a level of comfort that few can fathom. While the exact details of his journeys are shrouded in secrecy, some accounts have leaked out over the years. Crates of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines live lobsters for gourmet meals, and entertainment provided by young female singers referred to as “lady conductors” are just a glimpse into the extravagance of these voyages.
The Elusive Details
Information about Kim’s train comes from intelligence reports and occasional accounts from officials fortunate to have traveled onboard. It is believed that there are roughly 90 heavily armoured carriages at Kim’s disposal. When he travels abroad, his train typically comprises 10 to 15 cars, accommodating his security detail, medical staff, and advisers.
The heavy armour means the train moves at a snail’s pace, restricted to a top speed of only 25 miles per hour. However, the interiors are a stark contrast to the sluggish exterior. A few years ago, a video revealed a carriage adorned with pink sofas, where Kim traveled to China. His onboard office featured a desk, a chair, and a map of China and the Korean Peninsula.
Other glimpses have shown a car with a long, white table, where Kim and his father held court on various occasions. In 2020, state TV footage showed Kim riding a train to visit a typhoon-hit area. The carriage displayed flower-shaped lighting and zebra-printed fabric chairs, indicating the luxury within.
A Culinary Extravaganza
Reports from foreign officials who have traveled with the Kims emphasize the luxury of these journeys. According to Konstantin Pulikovsky, a Russian official who accompanied Kim’s father on a trip through Russia two decades ago, the trains boasted a staggering array of cuisine, including Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and French dishes. Cases of Bordeaux and Beaujolais wine and live lobsters were readily available.
Kim Jong-un is rumored to have a penchant for Swiss cheese, Cristal champagne, and Hennessy cognac, adding an extra layer of luxury to his rail escapades.
While Kim’s train is synonymous with luxury, it also plays a crucial role in North Korean state propaganda. The ruling Kim family has a tradition of embarking on long journeys by rail to meet ordinary North Koreans across the country. State television often portrays Kim as he touches corn leaves and discusses corn crops while enjoying a cigarette. These trips are presented as part of the leader’s quest for a “communist utopia” during his “exhaustive train tours.”
This tradition refers to North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, who regularly traveled abroad by train during his rule until his passing in 1994.
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