Leaving North Korea

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rf_ioliver

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This appeared on BBC News this morning; Russian diplomats utilised an unusual way of leaving North Korea. There's even a video of them I assume on the bridge from NK to Russia. Of course I have no idea of the veracity of this but, interesting all the same

A group of Russian diplomats and their families made an unusual exit out of North Korea on a hand-pushed rail trolley due to strict Covid measures.
The eight people travelled by train and bus before pushing themselves across the Russian border for about 1km (0.6miles) over train tracks.
Photos shared by the ministry showed the diplomats on the trolley with their suitcases amid a wintry landscape. They were also seen cheering in a video as they crossed into Russia
 
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matt_world2004

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I am surprised Russia tolerated this and didn't demand to send a train across the boarder to pick up diplomats. North Korea needs Russia more than Russia needs North Korea.
 

etr221

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Saw it in the Guardian too. What sort of track might that be? Dual standard/5' gauge?
Yes - standard and 5 feet gauges are too close for conventional three rail dual gauge track.

In 'normal' times there is some sort of regular (passenger) service across that border - despite the crossing supposedly being only for 'locals' (Russians and N Koreans), a couple of Austrian railfans did manage to get to Pyongyan (from Vienna) that way, and there is (or was) a write up of their trip on the web somewhere.
 

Gag Halfrunt

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Reportedly North Korea is not allowing trains to cross the border "for fear of accidentally contracting or importing COVID-19", so these presumably single-use trolleys have to be used instead.


The eight Russians traveled by rail towards the Northeast city of Chongjin, where they were expected to rest overnight, sources said. They then were slated to continue on to Rason, where they would cross the border to Russia using the Khasan-Tumangang rail bridge on Thursday.

The group, which included children, planned to leave DPRK territory aboard a rail trolley specifically made for shuttling out the foreigners, one source said. Others told NK News that a Russian citizen in Rason who fell gravely ill in late 2020 left the country on a similar rail trolley.

Since early 2020, North Korea has not allowed any of its locomotives or wagons to enter or leave the country for fear of accidentally contracting or importing COVID-19.

Helmut Uttenthaler's Vienna-Pyongyang blog is at
 
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MarcVD

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I have heard that this border crossing is open for regular tourists since a few years now.
 

Gag Halfrunt

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Last week, a group of Russian diplomats and their families made international headlines as they left North Korea via a hand-pushed rail trolley — a journey that some media described as “grueling” or a possible sign of poor DPRK-Russia relations.

Now, one Russian diplomat who took that North Korean trolley is reportedly pushing back against criticism of the DPRK, calling the trip a “big adventure” and an “epic journey for the kids” on board.

Vladislav Sorokin, the third secretary at the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang, said that the Russian diplomats asked North Korea for the option to ride the hand-pushed trolley before they crossed the border last week, according to a Feb. 26 report from Russia’s state-run TASS.

...

The Russian diplomat reportedly said that his group was offered the option to take a bus across the China-DPRK border to Dandong, but that the Russians decided against it due to the lengthy required quarantine in China. That option would mean a Chinese bus coming into the DPRK to pick them up before returning to Dandong via a cross-border road bridge, he said.

According to Sorokin, the group was not allowed to take an ordinary train across the Russia-DPRK border. The last time authorities allowed a plane to evacuate diplomats from Pyongyang was in early March 2020.
 

Vespa

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I visited North Korea 11 years ago as part of my round world trip.

I've travelled the NK railway and Pyongyang subway, from my observations it seemed to be standard gauge all the way to Dandong China so should be similar to this line in the report, even then the infrastructure does seem fairly run down compared to the rest of the world or indeed Chinese railway system.

I suspect there probably isn't the fuel or available train for the diplomats, so they used their initiative, they wouldn't have done this if there is a train running on the line, they've done pretty well getting hold of a trolley to get out at all.
 

Gag Halfrunt

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Availability of fuel or rolling stock doesn't seem to be the problem. The line across the Russia-North Korea border is dual gauge as far as Rason, so the Russian government could have sent an RZD train to pick up the diplomats.

The new NKNews article specifically states: "According to Sorokin, the group was not allowed to take an ordinary train across the Russia-DPRK border."

If the North Korean government is not allowing real trains to cross the border because of fear of contamination, using a trolley makes sense. It would be built in North Korea from locally available materials, and would be used only once, never returning to North Korea.
 
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