September 01, 2011 11:01
In an unprecedented spurt of openness, North Korea's Central TV on Tuesday showed footage of reclusive leader Kim Jong-il's special armored train. It showed the drawing-room car in a lengthy report on Kim's recent visit to Russia.
The clip shows the train arriving at Khazan Railway Station after crossing the North Korea-Russia border on Aug. 20. It shows Viktor Ishayev, the Russian presidential envoy to the Far East Region, and other Russians getting on the train and talking with Kim in the drawing-room car.
The car, which looks somewhat cramped, has a wooden desk and chair apparently for Kim's use and a beige sofa and a marble table. The floor is so shiny it could be mistaken for marble as well.
A source familiar with North Korean affairs said, "The furniture looks simple and rustic, but it's all custom-made by foreign artisans using top-quality materials." Translucent blinds are drawn on the windows so that nobody can look inside.
On the wall behind the desk is a big LCD monitor showing a map of the Korean Peninsula.
"Descriptions of the train route and maps of surrounding areas appear on the monitor. The monitor looks like 40 to 50 inches wide, if the interior of the train is about 2.5 m wide," a South Korean security official said.
The interior of the drawing room is shown again when Kim is seen talking with the president of the Republic of Buryatia, Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn, and his entourage after a tour of Lake Baikal.
Konstantin Pulikovsky, then Russian presidnetla emissary who traveled with Kim by train across Russia in 2001, showed pictures of the interior of Kim's special train in his book titled "Orient Express" in 2002. He said the train was a gift from Stalin to Kim's father Kim Il-sung. Now it has a SatNav and telephones so Kim can keep in touch with officials back in North Korea.
According to South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies, the bullet-proof train is kitted out like a luxury hotel. It also has a conference room and luxury bedrooms.
The floorings are actually made of bullet-proof steel sheets. Of about 20 train cars, four are reserved for medical staff and medical equipment in case Kim's health suddenly deteriorates.
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