Is Kim Jong-un taking a royal train to meet Trump?
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is set to meet US President Donald Trump for their second summit in Vietnam this week. Kim was recently spotted waving from a train, which left from Pyongyang Station for Vietnam. Although it's not clear if he would travel all the way to Hanoi through the train, his family's love for train rides is well-known. Here's more.
Kim traveling in armored train like his father, grandfather did
It will be a two-and-a-half day journey for Kim if he decides to travel to Vietnam by train. It's possible that he could catch a plane on the way. And, if he chooses the rail journey, he'll do it in style. Kim's father Kim Jon II and grandfather Kim II Sung, both have used armored trains, similar to the one he's currently traveling in.
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One of the carriages in train is carrying a Mercedes
The train comprises 21 carriages including all-white conference halls, sleeping quarters, and dining cars. Some carriages are adorned with big-screen televisions, ivory-colored curtains, and pink leather chairs. One of the carriages is carrying a Mercedes Benz. The train has the capacity to travel up to 80km/hr on China's network, compared to 45km/hr on North Korea's tracks, a Korean Transport Institute official told media.
Kim previously took the train for a missile launch
Although this time Kim is presumed to be taking the train ride to make peace, in the past he used the same train for a missile launch. In 2016, he arrived back in Pyongyang victorious after a long-range rocket, that the US stated was an "inter-continental ballistic missile", was successfully tested in Sohae. He was greeted with a red-carpet celebration at the Pyongyang station.
Kim's father died on train; grandfather would regularly ride trains
Coming to his family's love for trains, Kim Jong II took his last breath aboard a train and the carriage in which he died is currently exhibited in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Pyongyang. Notably, the body of Kim Jong II is said to be preserved in the palace. Further, Kim II Sung, North Korea's founding leader would regularly travel abroad by train.
'Pageantry is already winning over substance in this summit'
Meanwhile, former South Korean intelligence official, Nam Sung-wook, told media that Kim traveling through a train to the summit was "part of an image he wanted to project." "Kim Jong-un is already putting on a big show, opting for over 60-hour train journey, when he can get to Hanoi in just four-hours by flight...Pageantry is already winning over substance in this summit," Nam said.