A group of Russian diplomats and their families was forced to take extreme measures to get out of North Korea, topping a 32-hour train and bus journey off Thursday by pushing a self-propelled train trolley the last half-mile to the Russian border. Video of the group of eight, including some children, riding with their luggage atop the open-air train car shot around the internet. “Since the borders have been closed for more than a year and the passenger communication has been stopped, it’s been a long and difficult way to get home,” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained in a Facebook post.
The group of Russians had been stationed in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang as part of the country’s diplomatic mission; Russia is one of the few nations with a remaining presence in the closed-off state. With few options to get out of the country after North Korea closed its borders completely last year due to the pandemic, halting movement both in and out, the Russian delegation embarked on an arduous journey up through the north of the country to the Russian border. “They needed to prepare the cart in advance, put it on rails, place the luggage, seat the children and then set off. … They had to push the whole assembly by rail for more than a kilometer,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said of the journey.
The final leg of the trip included pushing the self-propelled handcart across a bridge traversing the Tumen River, which forms the border between the two countries. The group was greeted by Russian officials at the Siberian border crossing and taken to Vladivostok in the far east of the country.