This is the scenic route Kim Jong Un is taking to meet Trump

Ready to shake some hands.
Ready to shake some hands.
Image: Reuters/KCNA
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Sixty years ago, North Korea’s leader, Kim Il Sung, travelled via China before flying to Hanoi to meet Vietnam’s president, Ho Chi Minh. The visit took place not long after the two countries established diplomatic relations. Now, his grandson, leader Kim Jong Un, is taking a similar approach.

Kim is making his way by armored train from North Korea’s capital Pyongyang through China to Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, where he will meet US president Donald Trump on Wednesday to discuss ending North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear armament. It is the second meeting between the two leaders following their historic summit in Singapore in June.

Kim left Saturday afternoon, and is expected to arrive in Hanoi later today (paywall), the New York Times reported. A direct flight would take a few hours. Kim had to borrow a plane from China to get to the last summit—he may be taking the train to avoid doing so again, North Korea expert Cheng Xiaohe, from China’s Renmin University, told the New York Times.

Kim’s train passed through Tianjin, a city around 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Beijing, on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Changsha, a southern Chinese city, around 1pm local time today, Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Other stations on the route included the cities of Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Nanning, and Pingxiang.

Vietnamese soldiers are seen at the Dong Dang railway station where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to arrive, at the border town with China in Dong Dang, Vietnam, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha - RC192B3E16F0
Vietnamese soldiers are seen at the railway station in Dong Dang, a Vietnamese border town, where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will continue his trip to Hanoi by car.
Image: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

Kim will need to take a car from the Vietnamese border town of Dong Dang to get to Hanoi. That’s because Vietnam’s train tracks were originally designed to be incompatible with Chinese ones to make it harder for China invade, Cheng said. It’s unclear if this is the first time Kim has visited any of the Chinese cities he will be passing through. When his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, was en route to Vietnam in 1958, he first paid an official visit to Beijing, Wuhan, and Guangzhou before taking a plane, arranged by China, to Vietnam.

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong-ho recently completed a four-day trip to Vietnam to learn more about the country’s economic reforms. In the 1990s, both countries were similarly poor. As in China, Vietnam’s Communist Party has managed to remain in power while managing the country’s incredible growth, something that is likely to appeal to Kim.

Below are some of the scenes Kim is likely to see in China, where states have taken on huge debts to build the world’s largest high-speed train network.

In this Tuesday Feb. 28, 2012 photo, a worker cleans exterior of a CRH high-speed train at Tianjin Railway Station in Tianjin, China. A section of a high-speed railway line that had already undergone test runs has collapsed in central China following heavy rains, the latest accident since a crash last summer that killed 40 people, state media reported Monday March 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A worker cleans the exterior of a high-speed train at Tianjin Railway Station.
Image: AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan
High speed trains at Wuhan Railway Station, Hubei province August 11, 2011. China plans to suspend new railway project approvals and launch safety checks on existing equipment to address growing public concern following a deadly crash between two high-speed trains last month, Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying by state media on Wednesday. Reuters/Stringer
High-speed trains at Wuhan Railway Station are pictured.
Image: Reuters/Stringer
Passengers rush to board trains at Changsha Railway Station, Hunan province January 8, 2012. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is the bigger of two "Golden Week" holidays, giving migrant workers their only chance of the year to return to their home provinces with gifts for their families. More than 200 million people are expected to take to the railways over this year's holiday, the biggest movement of humanity in the world. Picture taken January 8, 2012. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY TRANSPORT) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA - GM1E8190Y3C01
Changsha Railway station during China’s Lunar New Year celebration.
Image: Reuters/China Daily
In this Aug. 11, 2016 photo, water buffalo graze amid birds in a field set against a backdrop of irregular karst peaks near Club Med's resort in Guilin, China. The Club Med resort in Guilin, China, reflects Chinese tastes. There’s a contemplative vibe, including a lake with an arched bridge, lush foliage and a setting of limestone mountain peaks. (AP Photo/Kelvin Chan)
Kim’s last two train stops in China will be in Guangxi Province, a mountainous area.
Image: AP Photo/Kelvin Chan