For his first known trip outside North Korea in almost four years, Kim Jong Un has likely returned to a favored mode of transport: a luxuriously decorated, heavily armored and exceptionally slow-moving train.
The train’s final destination remains unclear, amid speculation about potential meetings at the port city of Vladivostok or the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia’s spaceport — both in the country’s far east, hundreds of miles from the North Korean border.
Like his father, who was reportedly scared of flying, and his grandfather — Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea — Kim has predominantly traveled internationally in a specially manufactured train, an unusual mode of transport for a 21st-century world leader.
However, for a high-profile diplomatic summit with President Donald Trump in 2018 he used a Boeing 747 operated by Air China. He used a North Korean airplane to make the relatively short trip to the Chinese city of Dalian in 2018 for his second meeting with President Xi Jinping.
U.S. officials had initially said that Kim was likely to meet Putin in Vladivostok, more than 300 miles from the North Korean border. They are expected to discuss potential arms shipments that could aid Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Putin announced plans to visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome — Russia’s main spaceport since 2016 — leading to speculation that the meeting could take place there, more than 900 miles further on from Vladivostok. The famed Trans-Siberian railway line passes through the nearby town of Belogorsk.