KIM JONG-IL, the reclusive leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, made a rare state visit abroad in August, travelling to Moscow by train. An official announcement of the trip was made minutes before his armoured train crossed the border into Russia. Police guarded the tracks, and passengers were cleared from platforms before the train passed through at 40 km/h, preceded by two light engines.

The reasons for Kim Jong-il choosing the nine-day rail journey between July 26 and August 3 are unknown, but neither he nor his father are known to have flown.

Following talks with President Putin, the countries issued a joint statement including an undertaking to make all necessary efforts to establish a railway corridor connecting North and South Korea with Russia and Europe (p575).

CAPTION: Kim Jong-il’s armoured train leaves Krasnoyarsk behind a pair of new Class EP1s Photo: Reuters