Kim Jong Un rode his bulletproof armored train from North Korea to Russia's extreme east for his first-ever meeting with Vladimir Putin

kim jong un train waveNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to his country's officials and civilians before boarding a train to Russia. This footage was released by North Korean state TV on April 24, 2019.Korean Central Television via BBC Monitoring

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Russia, where he will meet President Vladimir Putin.
  • Kim traveled from North Korea to eastern Russia in his family's bulletproof armored train. Russian girls in costume presented him with bread and salt - a traditional welcome for an honored guest.
  • Kim and Putin are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear program after similar talks with US President Donald Trump broke down in March.
  • Kim told Russian officials, according to The Associated Press: "I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia in his personal train on Wednesday, ahead of his first-ever meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kim's bulletproof, armored train pulled into eastern Russia on Wednesday. While it's not clear where in North Korea Kim departed from, the journey was likely hundreds of miles.

nk russia mapMap showing North Korea and southeastern Russia.Google Maps; Business Insider

Kim typically travels in and out of the country by his family's train, which according to past footage is filled with plush pink leather seats, Apple computers, and fine French wine.

The one time Kim traveled out of the country by plane - to meet US President Donald Trump in Singapore last June - he was ridiculed for his apparent reliance on China, since he borrowed it from the Chinese government.

Read more: Inside Kim Jong Un's personal train - which is bulletproof, has all-white conference rooms, and its own red carpet ramp

North Korean state media on Wednesday aired footage of Kim boarding at an undisclosed train station. South Korea's Yonhap news agency speculated that Kim left from a rural area, rather than the capital city of Pyongyang, according to The Associated Press.

At the train station Kim walked down a red carpet to board his train. It pulled away as dozens of soldiers, government officials, and civilians saluted, clapped, and waved flowers to bid him goodbye. Kim's departures from and arrivals to North Korea are typically full of this kind of pomp.

kim jong un train sendoffNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves for his train to Russia at an undisclosed location in this undated photo released on April 23, 2019.KCNA via Reuters

It's not clear what time Kim left North Korea on Wednesday. The dark sky in the video suggests that he started his journey early in the morning, as he has done in previous train journeys.

kim jong un departure trainNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves for Russia at an undisclosed location in this undated photo released on April 23, 2019.KCNA via Reuters

While Kim's route was largely kept secret - as they are for all his foreign travels - he likely traveled across the Druzhny Bridge ("Bridge of Friendship"), which links Russia and North Korea. The bridge is reportedly closed to tourists.

Read more: Only one road in the world leads from Russia to North Korea - and you can take a trip down it on Google Maps

north korea russia druzhny bridgeRussian soldiers patrol by the Druzhby bridge (Bridge of Friendship) that straddles the country's border with North Korea, January 26, 2003. Russia, the only member of the Group of Eight industrial countries to have warm relations with both Koreas, has been urging Pyongyang to find a diplomatic solution to its dispute with the United States. Picture taken January 26, 2003. REUTERS/Igor OnuchinIgor Onuchin/Reuters

Later on Wednesday Russia's state-run Rossiya-24 TV channel also aired footage of Kim's arrival in Khasan, eastern Russia. Upon leaving his train Kim took off his black fedora hat and was welcomed by Russian girls in traditional clothing.

kim jong un russia fedoraKim Jong Un departs his a train upon arrival at Khasan train station in Russia on April 24, 2019.Primorsky Regional Administration Press Service via AP

The North Korean leader was also presented with a loaf of round bread with salt on a tray - a traditional Russian welcome for a respected guest.

The recipient is supposed to eat the bread immediately, but Kim had the girls give the bread to the North Korea's consul general in the region instead, Rossiya-24 news channel reported.

kim jong un russia bread and saltNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un is welcomed by girls clad in traditional Russian clothes upon arrival at Khasan train station in Primorye region, Russia, on April 24, 2019Primorsky Regional Administration Press Service via AP

Kim also answered questions from Russia's state-owned Rossiya 24 news channel - a rare move from the reclusive leader who previously never spoke to media other than those run by the North Korean state.

Later on Wednesday Kim met with Russian officials before setting off for the southeastern port city of Vladivostok, where he is due to meet Putin on Thursday.

According to The Associated Press, Kim told Russian government officials on Wednesday: "I have heard a lot about your country and have long dreamt of visiting it."

"It's been seven years since I took the helm, and I've only just managed to visit," he added.

He also paid tribute to his late father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il, by mentioning his "great love for Russia" and displaying a photo of him on the table during a meeting.

kim jong un russia kim jong ilNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a meeting with Russian officials upon his arrival in Khasan, Russia, on April 24, 2019.Press Service of Administration of Primorsky Krai/Alexander Safronov/Handout via Reuters; Business Insider

Notably absent from the trip is Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, who had accompanied Kim to both his summits with Trump and held a position in the country's top decision-making body.

North Korea experts speculate that she was removed from her high-ranking position after she was left out of an important gathering earlier this month.

Read more: Kim Jong Un's 'princess' sister may have been kicked out of North Korea's ruling body, suggesting a fall from favor

Kim Yo JongKim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam on March 2, 2019.REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Pool

At Vladivostok on Thursday, Kim and Putin are expected to focus on North Korea's nuclear program and denuclearization, according to the Kremlin, after Kim's nuclear talks with Trump broke down in March.

Kim will likely also court broader Russian investment into North Korea's infrastructure, and persuade Putin to side with him in the easing of international sanctions, Business Insider Rosie Perper's reported.

Putin, through this summit, is likely seeking to exert more influence in North Korean affairs, which could be seen as a move to rile the US.

Read more: Here's a basic rundown of what Kim and Putin are expecting in their first summit

vladimir putin and kim jong unFILE - This combination file photo, shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 9, 2019, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 28, 2019.AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Evan Vucci, File

Kim will likely stay in Vladivostok until Friday, Yonhap reported. After his March summit with Trump in Vietnam ended, Kim stayed in capital city of Hanoi for an extra day and toured its monuments before returning home.

Putin, meanwhile, leaves for Beijing on Friday to attend a two-day conference for China's Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to connect dozens of countries with Chinese-backed infrastructure projects.

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