The Party Train of Kim Jong-Il


When North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il ventures out from his happy country, as he did recently to visit China, he prefers to travel by train. But Dear Leader only does so under extraordinary security precautions, and surrounded by bling and luxuries that would make the most ostentatious of American hiphop superstars shake in their diamond-encrusted Pradas:

Kim's train is equipped with conference rooms, an audience chamber and bedrooms, with a pair of Mercedes-Benzes on standby, not to mention satellite phone connections and flat-screen TVs so the leader can be briefed and issue orders.

In the 2002 book "Orient Express," Russian official Konstantin Pulikovsky described Kim's three-week journey to Moscow the previous year.

Cases of Bordeaux and Beaujolais were flown in from Paris, as was live lobster, according to the book. There were also such North Korean specialties as koya, piglet barbecue, and salo, salted and aged pig fat. Leftovers were boxed up and returned to North Korea.

What, no Ciroq? Well, at least the people of North Korea aren't on the verge of (yet another) famine. Oh wait, they are.

Kim Jong Il mixes bling, extreme safety on train (LA Times)


  1. This while his country people are suffering in poverty. He’s simply a horrible human being.


  2. Look how happy the soldiers are!

    Happy and thin.

    And the soldier behind Kim’s shoulder appears to be checking on their smile quotient.

    C’mon, boys, let’s see those receding gums!

  3. I feel like old Kimmy is the perfect villain. Seriously, no matter what kind of sick sadistic tyrant you are, you can always point to Kimmy and go, “Hey man, at least I am not as bad as that dude.”

  4. 1st, Thanks to the BB commenter who shared their love of ‘James Church’s’ detective novels as a window into N. Korean’s civilian experience in the recent past, when a previous BB posting focused on N. Korea.
    Next, my total recommendation to read these stories… I’ve never found myself finding nearly every other sentence so understatedly wryly humorous. From a “former intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia” (it’s a pseudonym) I would have never expected such world class writing…Check it out!
    I can’t wait for his 4th, due in August.

    1. The James Church novels are interesting, but they are pretty much pastiches of Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko novels (Gorky Park, etc.), only with North Korea local flavor replacing the Soviet/Russian flavor — basically a honest cop in a dishonest system tries to solve crimes despite the system.

  5. He deserves such luxury, because according to KCNA it sounds like this was the most important trip of all important trips, ever.

    “Leading papers here today editorially congratulate General Secretary Kim Jong Il on his successful historic China visit. They say that his visit was an epoch-making event that would shine long in the history of the DPRK-China friendship.”

    None of Obama’s trips are considered epoch-making by our media. And, all he gets when he travels is half a can of cold broth and a crust of bread. Maybe someday we can bask in the glory of such a wonderful Dear Leader, ourselves.

    1. For a country that only produces B&W sets of their own I imagine that is pretty aspirational.

  6. Yep, he’s a piece of work, alright. But then, most world leaders are surrounded by similar levels of opulence and security. I guess that it’s ok over here because we all have free public health care, everyone has a job, and nobody ever goes hungry. Or at least, we’re the good guys. Or something. Yay for us!

    1. Yep, he’s a piece of work, alright. But then, most world leaders are surrounded by similar levels of opulence and security. I guess that it’s ok over here because we all have free public health care, everyone has a job, and nobody ever goes hungry. Or at least, we’re the good guys. Or something. Yay for us!

      I really am not all that thrilled about our leaders being rich bastards. Frankly, I would rather our politicians be drawn by lottery and have to ride around in coach class. Opulence for politicians makes me sick. I don’t even like all the happy little quasi-royalty ceremonies we have the bastards.

      That said, I feel a lot less bad about it when I know that we don’t regularly discard double digit percentages of our population to starvation and execution for political crimes. There is a pretty wide gap between knocking off percentage points of your population to starvation and mild malnutrition in the lower class. There is a pretty big gap between sending away hundreds of thousands of people and their freaking entire extended families to slave labor camps for political crimes, and bad drug laws and not following due process for a few hundred “enemy combatants”.

      I’m not suggesting malnutrition, locking people up for smoking some harmless weed, or stripping habeas corpus because you are a suspected terrorist is a good thing, but get some mother-fucking perspective on it. Slapping someone in the face and murdering someone are both wrong, but one of those things is a bit more wrong than the other.

  7. Yes yes, Kim == evil.

    North Korea is an evil communist country because the government appropriates the wealth from the masses to allow the General Secretary to live in outrageously plush circumstance.

    The United States is a happy good capitalist country because only corporations and private citizens (and corporations that ARE citizens) appropriate, er, earn, the wealth from the masses to allow CEOs and economy-breaking financiers to live in outrageously plush circumstances.

    1. It’s too bad they had to tone him down so much for the “Team America” puppet movie.

      My favourite Kim-trick is the procedure of mutilating the dead bodies of everyone who tries to embarrass him by not managing to live until the end of their prison terms in the slave labour camps.

      On the other hand, I once saw a guy kick a dog over here so I guess it’s all the same.

      To quote Rindan‘s excellent post: “get some mother-fucking perspective”. Don’t just automatically and robotically defend everyone who’s not a Jew or a Yank.

    2. Cratermoon, yeah, the US doesn’t have most of the population starving. That’s just one of many differences.

  8. salted and aged pig fat

    That’s exactly what I think of every time I see that sunglasses-bedecked baboon.

  9. Not enough security to avoid the Joker Gas attack, apparently!

    Where’s the Caped Crusader when you need him??

  10. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around how awful some situations are because of their size or scale.

    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick helped me put a human face to the ongoing human tragedy that this guy living off of. Sad, but eye opening.

    On the other hand, Kim Jong-Il does know how to Party, Communist Party-ON A TRAIN!!1!

  11. Whoever stops smiling first…dies.

    Seriously though, as a leader of a nation, having banquets while on a tour of another nation, and a sat phone to keep in contact with, you know, your nation… and like TV… Also I had “live” lobster not too long ago… I must be livin’ like a gangster also!

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