Train, car, plane: What next for Kim Jong-un’s transport for the Trump summit?
The world is caught up with the diplomatic frenzy in the Korean Peninsula, seeing North Korea, one of the world's most isolated countries, engaging with the outside world in an apparent quest for denuclearised and conflict-free Korean Peninsula.
The focus at the moment is on Kim Jong-un, the leader in his mid-30s who has come out of his hermit kingdom to openly engage with powers that are relevant for peace in the Korean Peninsula, including the United States.
But while the diplomatic focus is more on Kim's engagements with the outer world, one should also spare a few moments and words for the diversity of his transportation while heading for the high-profile meetings with foreign heads of state.
Kim took a train to Beijing in March
Kim's first-ever visit outside his country as the North Korean leader came in March this year (he assumed power in December 2011) when he set his foot in China to meet President Xi Jinping. Kim's visit to the neighbouring country happened secretly and he used the deep green armoured train to make it to Beijing, rekindling the memory of his predecessors - grandfather Kim Il-Sung and father Kim Jong-Il - who used the train, which is slow-running because of its weight but has luxurious arrangements inside. While Kim Jong-Il, who was reportedly afraid of flying, took the train to go to China and Russia, Kim Il-Sung even reached the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe by the train in 1984, which shows how much penchant the isolationist leaders of North Korea had to beat public glare. Being a country which found itself at a geographical advantage of staying close to authoritarian and close systems, North Korea's leaders found themselves well-served by train as a mode of travelling.
Kim took a car to South Korea in April
That North Korean leaders are a class of their own became evident once again when Kim Jong-un visited the border truce village of Punmunjeom to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the historic Korean Summit on April 27. Kim arrived at the venue in his black limousine and the world noticed with amazement that Kim left for North Korea for lunch with 12 bodyguards jogging around his Mercedes in a U-shaped formation.
The "human motorcade" left the social media in splits with some suggesting that the chubby leader should also jog besides his limo. This show of safeguarding a national leader was indeed bizarre and would not have been seen had Kim not taken his vehicle to the summit.
Kim took a plane to China in May
That Kim also had a taste for flying was revealed when he secretly visited China again on May 8 to meet President Jinping. An aircraft from North Korea's state-run Air Koryo was seen parked at China's port city of Dalian on Tuesday, fuelling speculation that some North Korean big shot had reached China and soon afterwards, it was revealed that the big shot was none other than Kim. His arrival by plane to China this time was also a symbolic move that neither is Kim afraid to fly like his late father and nor is the message that North Korea lacks a plane fit enough to take Kim to the meeting with US President Donald Trump in some weeks true.
Pyongyang has been making every effort possible to show that Kim is going to meet Trump from a position of strength and not out of compulsion and the travel by plane was also a part of that strategy.
Citing some analysts, the US media reported in April that North Korea did not have a plane that could take Kim to a venue for the meeting that was out of bounds for a train or car travel and most of its planes were too old. But Kim's latest visit to China buries all such theories and makes him as fit a statesman who can fly anywhere to meet the American top leadership.
We sincerely hope Kim wouldn't have to take a ship, boat or submarine to reach the venue of his summit with Trump.