North Korean leader Kin Jong-un arrived in the Vietnamese border town of Dong Dang in a heavily armoured train on Tuesday morning ahead of his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday. He took a 60-hour train ride to Vietnam which would otherwise just take 3-4 hours by plane. So why did Kim actually embark on a train journey so long from Pyonngyang in North Korea to Dong Dang traversing through China?
The train that Kim is on is often referred to as a “special hotel” that can move. The train, which has a label DF-0002 differs from the model that his father Kim Jong-il took, which had the label DF-0001. According to reports, the train is built with high-level of security facilities and a very hotel-like interior.
Kim started off on his long train trip on Saturday afternoon (local time), departing from Pyonngyang’s train station at around 4:30 pm. After 60 hours, it arrived at the Dong Dang station in Vietnam. From here, the North Korean leader will transfer to a motor vehicle to complete the trip to Hanoi. From Dong Dang Station in Lang Son Province, it will take about three hours to reach Hanoi by car. The straight-line distance between Pyonyang and Hanoi is 4,500 kilometre.
The route likely taken by the heavily armoured train that Kim was travelling in. (Photo: Twitter/@)
Several reasons are being put forth by experts for Kim to undertake the 60-hour train journey. One being, as the train passed through China, the trip was also viewed as a way for North Korea to boost its close ties to its ally. While some like to believe that this is how his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder, travelled to Vietnam in 1958 and 1964, using airplane and train to reach Hanoi via China. Kim is often seen to replicate his grandfather to reinforce the idea that he is a successor of the Kim regime.
According to a report in the Korea Herald, the armoured train is also thought to be a safer choice for Kim, as North Korea’s state jet Chammae-1 is old and there is a lack of experienced pilots. The Chammae-1 is a Soviet-era IL-62M, that is capable of traveling up to 10,000 kilometre. When Kim travelled to Singapore by plane for his first summit with Trump in June 2018, he did so on a plane borrowed from the Chinese government.