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NEW YORK — A 250-meter long train thought to belong to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is parked at a resort compound on the country’s east coast, according to a North Korea monitoring group based in Washington.

The group, 38 North, released commercial satellite imagery on Saturday showing a railway station used by the Kim family at the Wonsan compound with no train as of April 15, but the presence of carriages on Tuesday and Thursday.

The new information adds further fuel to speculation about the leader’s health, which has gripped the attention of world leaders, intelligence organizations, North Korea watchers and media across the world over the past week.

While the photographs do not confirm the leader’s whereabouts or indicate the status of his health, “it does lend weight to reports that Kim is staying at an elite area on the country’s eastern coast,” 38 North reported.

On Monday, CNN reported the U.S. was monitoring intelligence that suggested Kim “is in grave danger after undergoing a previous surgery,” citing an official with direct knowledge.


A train seen parked at the Leadership Railway Station in Wonsan, North Korea on April 21. (Satellite image (c) 2020 Maxar Technologies via Getty Images)

Reuters reported Friday that China dispatched a team of doctors and officials to North Korea to advise Kim, citing information from three people familiar with the situation.

A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, the sources said.

The Wonsan complex includes nine large guesthouses and a recreation center including a shooting range, according to 38 North. “Adjacent to the railway station is a small runway that was originally used for light aircraft but was converted in the second half of 2019 into a horse-riding track to match Kim’s latest hobby,” it explained.


Kim Jong Un’s train seen at a railway station in Beijing in March 2018. 

  © Reuters

Kim, like his father Kim Jong Il, prefers to travel by rail on his so-called “No. 1 Train.” The dark green train with a yellow stripe is used only by Kim Jong Un, and is reportedly designed to be difficult for U.S. spy satellites to detect.

When Kim traveled to Beijing on the train in March 2018, it had 21 cars. On the way back to Pyongyang, the cars were loaded with large quantities of luxury items, including bottles of high-end liquor Maotai that Kim received from Chinese President Xi Jinping as a gift to commemorate his first trip there.

Wonsan is a coastal town located roughly 200 km east of the capital Pyongyang, facing the Sea of Japan. It has beaches, hot springs and a ski resort, according to investment-seeking delegations that have held presentations in China.

“Wonsan is just one hour away from Russia, China and Japan,” a North Korean government official said at a 2014 investment fair in Dalian, China.

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