Kim Jong Un took the scenic route to meet Donald Trump in Hanoi, spending 66 hours on a slow plod through China on an armor-plated train.
The North Korean leader set out from Pyongyang at 5 p.m. Saturday, arriving in the Vietnam capital Tuesday morning. The last leg of the journey from the Chinese border was made in an armor-plated Mercedes-Benz limousine.
The long trip was reportedly necessary because Kim’s 40-year-old, Soviet-made Ilyushin Il-62 aircraft needs repair — and the Supreme Leader was reluctant to ask China for spare parts. It seems Kim also didn’t want to ask Beijing for another loan of the Boeing 747 he borrowed from Air China last June to travel to his first summit with Donald Trump, in Singapore.
Unlike the high-speed trains that typically populate China’s railways, Kim’s 21-carriage, bulletproof, khaki-green train has a top speed of just 38 mph due to the plating. That roughly equates to two and a half days for a 2,300-mile trip.
The train is decked out with satellite telephones, conference rooms, dining cars and sleeping quarters and features pink leather chairs and wide-screen TVs.
While Kim passed through a number of Chinese cities, he didn't stop in Beijing, though experts predict he could stop in the Chinese capital on the return leg to debrief President Xi Jinping. Kim has already traveled to China four times in the last 12 months, highlighting the importance of the relationship between the two countries.
China closed roads and cleared railway tracks on Sunday and Monday as Kim's train wound through the countryside. Beijing’s world-class online censorship apparatus scrubbed any mentions of Kim’s train and quickly removed images and videos of the convoy.
However, some people were able to post footage to Twitter:
Kim, a heavy smoker, was also captured by Japanese TV network TBS having a pre-dawn cigarette Tuesday at Nanning railway station in southern China.
The despot was finally able to disembark later that day and was seen waving at schoolchildren in the border town of Dong Dang — his interpreter hastily by his side.
After finally arriving in Vietnam, Kim checked in to the luxury Melia hotel, before paying a visit to North Korea’s embassy.
Kim’s overland journey to Hanoi is a stark contrast to Trump's: He set out from Washington on Air Force One Monday, and refueled in the U.K. and Qatar. He's due to land in Hanoi at 9:15 p.m. local time Tuesday.
Trump was preceded in Hanoi by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who both arrived earlier Tuesday.
The two-day summit kicks off Wednesday, starting with a one-on-one meeting between the leaders, followed by a social dinner that will include aides. Follow-up talks are set to take place Thursday.
Cover Image: Kim Jong-un waves from his car after arriving by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China on February 26, 2019 in Lang Son, Vietnam. (Linh Pham/Getty Images)