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Secret China visit: All aboard Kim Jong-il's luxury train

We're not supposed to know that Kim Jong-il owns six luxury trains, or that he rode one to Beijing this week and visited the Great Wall of China today. It's a secret.

By Correspondent / May 6, 2010

A heavily tinted and armored train that is believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il leaves Beijing Railway Station Thursday.

Petar Kujundzic/Reuters

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Who is so fearful of flying, and rich, that he owns six luxury trains?

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It’s impoverished North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, of course, whose other idiosyncrasies include spiking his hair, wearing tinted sunglasses, and living in relative luxury while many of his own citizens go without adequate food.

“The way of thinking about Kim Jong-il is he’s like an emperor,” says Scott A. Snyder, adjunct senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “He’s the master and everybody else is a servant.”

He was in Beijing on Wednesday for top-secret talks after riding one his fancy trains to China over the weekend. He is believed to have visited the Great Wall today.

(Shhhh. We’re not supposed to know.)

Luxury travel

It's apparent that Kim enjoys traveling in style. His armored train is decked out with: conference rooms, an audience chamber, bedrooms, satellite phone connections, and flat screen TVs. Some 20 train stations in North Korea were built specifically for his six trains, which all together have about 90 carriages, according to a November report in South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo.

In addition to the pot-bellied leader’s incredible luxury inside Korea, he reportedly has $4 billion saved away in European banks.

For Kim’s 2001 trans-Siberian train trip to Moscow, which took several weeks, he stocked up on live lobster and Bordeaux and Beaujolais wine flown in from Paris, according to the book "Orient Express: Across Russia with Kim Jong Il," by Konstantin Pulikovsky.

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