North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to take armoured train to Russia this month? 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to visit Russia’s far-eastern port city of Vladivostok by an armoured train this month to meet President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders are likely to clinch arms deal in which the North will provide Russia weapons as its reserves have been drained out due to the long-standing war with Ukraine. 

The Russia visit, which has not been formally affirmed, would be Kim’s most talked about visit abroad in over four years and the first since the Covid pandemic.  

It is probably going to require nearly an entire day to travel more than 1,000 km (600 miles) to Vladivostok across the border with Russia, assessing the North’s occasionally old-fashioned rail network. 

While Kim has made more trips abroad than his dad, Kim Jong Il, as North Korea’s leader, his movement is many times covered in mystery and heavy security. Not at all like his dad who was mostly unwilling to flying, Kim has flown his own Russian-made plane for many of his trips abroad. 

In 2004, there was an enormous blast at a rail station close to the Chinese border after Kim Jong Il passed on train getting back from China. It killed more than100 people. Whether the reason was an assassination attempt was never confirmed.  

Let us look at the number of visits abroad Kim has undertaken since he assumed power in 2011.  

  • March 2018: Making his most memorable first visit as the leader of North Korea, Kim visits China, the North’s super political ally and monetary supporter. He goes to Beijing by a unique train and holds a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 
  • The train, with its unique green paint, has more than 20 armoured cars and outfitted with a communication framework and a special cabin for Kim with a dazzling white inside where he has been seen working and holding gatherings with aides, as per North Korea’s official media and South Korean analysts. 
  • April 2018: Kim ventures across the inter-Korea border in the Panmunjom truce village for a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. It is the first time a North Korean leader has visited South Korea, Kim’s first meeting with a South Korean leader and the third ever by a North Korean leader. The two vow to further develop ties, end military showdown and bring harmony and normalcy. 
  • May 2018: Kim flies his own Ilyushin stream toward the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian and holds a meeting with Xi. The two talk about developing ties between the allies. The visit comes amid assumptions for Kim’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. 
  • June 10-12, 2018: Kim takes an American-made Boeing 747 operated via Air China on a non-stop flight from Pyongyang to Singapore for the first meeting between North Korea and the U.S. The meeting results in a joint proclamation on laying out new relations between the two nations, ensuring security for North Korea and a promise by the North to end its nuclear programme.
  • June 19-20, 2018: Kim visits China on his Ilyushin fly and examines the denuclearisation of North Korea with Xi in Beijing. Joined by senior financial associates, Kim visits modern Chinese industrial facilities and an agriculture research centre. 
  • Jan 7-10, 2019: Kim visits China for a fourth time, venturing out to Beijing via train amid assumptions of a second meeting with Trump. 
  • Feb. 26-28, 2019: Kim visits the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi briefly meeting Trump. He takes the train from Pyongyang through China for three days to reach Vietnam. Following two days of meetings, the discussions between Kim and Trump collapsed over lifting sanctions on the North and how to destroy its nuclear programme. 
  • April 24, 2019: Kim visits Vladivostok for his meeting with Putin. Kim takes the train for the almost day-long outing, crossing the Tumen Waterway line into Russia. 
  • June 30, 2019: Kim ventures across the between Korean border for meetings with Trump. 
  • September 2023: Kim is supposed to visit Vladivostok, again via train, for a meeting with Putin, which would be his first trip abroad in over four years. 

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