Russian Diplomats Push Their Way Out Of North Korea

Ruben Fields
February 27, 2021

Russian diplomats use a hand-pushed rail trolley while crossing the demarcation line between North Korea and Russia. A video showed two people pushing the trolley across a railway bridge. Experts and defectors from North Korea are skeptical about the claim, because they say the country has a poor track record of keeping previous epidemics out of the country.

A group of Russian diplomats and their family members returned to Russia from North Korea on a hand-pushed rail trolley on Thursday because of COVID-19 restrictions in the country, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a Facebook post.

The arduousness of the journey was caused by North Korea's severe pandemic restrictions, which have cut off nearly all travel into and out of the country.

The ministry posted photos showing embassy employees with their children and suitcases on a trolley. They had to push themselves and all of their luggage the rest of the way on a manual-powered rail trolley.

The main "engine" was the embassy's third secretary Vladislav Sorokin, who pushed the trolley across a rail bridge over the Tumen River into Russian Federation, said the ministry.

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Pyongyang's strict anti-Covid measures have affected travel movements and access to amenities.

North Korea shut its borders in January 2020, confined foreign diplomats and staff of worldwide organizations to Pyongyang and made it increasingly hard to rotate personnel in and out of the country.

The ministry said the group had been working in its embassy in Pyongyang and was forced to improvise because travel connections between the two countries had been cut off for more than a year.

Most travellers have gone overland and crossed the border into China, although there was one flight in March a year ago to Vladivostok carrying diplomats from Germany, Russia, France, Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Mongolia and Egypt.

The state has been known to shoot people trying to cross the border without authorization, as the BBC and The Guardian have reported.

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