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Kim hopped on his green-and-yellow armored train over the weekend to begin the roughly 60-hour journey from Pyongyang to Hanoi for the Feb. 27-28 summit, state media announced Sunday. The despot will most likely arrive at the Dong Dang railway station bordering China and Vietnam early Tuesday morning. His motorcade is then expected to drive another 105 miles to the Vietnam capital city.
On Weibo, the Chinese microblogging website equivalent to Twitter, Chinese censors appeared to remove all direct mentions of the North Korean leader and limited posts about road closures and train delays where Kim’s train is expected to pass through, AFP reported.
“Those watching Leader Kim’s Changsha road situation, has he made it to Changsha yet?” one user wrote, according to AFP.
“Changsha friends, are you ready? This train is so slow,” another person commented. “Yesterday it arrived in Zhengzhou — it’s only now made it to Wuhan.”
Some crafty users avoided being censored by referring to the despot as “Boss Kim” or “Little brother Kim.” Posts that used certain keywords and hashtags such as “Zhengshou road closures” were blocked on the site. “Changsha road closures” searches also came up empty, AFP reported.
A video posted on Weibo showed a train like the one Kim is traveling in passing through Wuhan in Central China’s Hubei province. One user wrote that the Monday morning rush hour — when Kim’s train supposedly passed through the city — was “truly miserable.”
Kim on Saturday was accompanied by Kim Yong Chol, who has been a key negotiator in talks with the U.S., and Kim Yo Jong, the leader’s sister, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. The train that reportedly travels a speed of 35 miles per hour will cover nearly 2,500 miles by the time it reaches the railway station bordering Vietnam.
The People’s Committee in Lang Son province, where the Dong Dang railway station is located, issued a statement Friday instructing the road operator to clean the highway stretch and suspend road works, among other things, on Feb. 24-28 as “a political task.”
Vietnam also announced there will be a complete ban of all vehicles on the 105-mile stretch of Highway One from Dong Dang to Hanoi from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rumors of Kim’s travel plans began last week and some speculated he would opt for his state jet, codenamed “Chammae-1,” which would cut his travel time to about 13 hours.
Kim traveled to Singapore in June for the first Trump summit using a Chinese charter plane with a Chinese flag displayed on the aircraft. Although he traveled by air for the first summit, Kim’s preferred travel method is by train — like his late father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung. Kim’s father loathed flying and made all his trips abroad, almost all to China, by rail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.