North Korea makes Russian diplomats push themselves out of country using handcar amid Covid restrictions

Russian envoy pushes a trolley for a kilometre across wild terrain to reach his homeland

Shweta Sharma
Friday 26 February 2021 09:30
Russian diplomat pushes hand car to depart North Korea

A group of Russian diplomats and their family members were compelled to take an unconventional and gruelling journey home from North Korea — pushing a trolley handcar laden with heaps of luggage and children across a wild terrain, amid strict coronavirus restrictions in Pyongyang.

Eight Russian embassy staffers in North Korea and their families took the 34-hour arduous journey trying to leave the country that ended up with them pushing a handcar laden with luggage and young children for one kilometre.

“In the beginning of [they travelled] 32 hours by train, then two more hours by bus to the border and finally, the toughest section of the route - a hiking to the Russian side. They made a handcar in advance, placed it on the track, loaded it with luggage, helped children onto the board and off they went,” Russian Foreign Ministry said in a tweet.

The visuals, that could easily be confused for a scene from history, showed the trolley laden with heaps of luggage and children, one of them as young as three-years-old seated, as secretary Vladislav Sorokin and his wife pushing it on train tracks beside a wintry landscape.

A handcart is a railroad vehicle that was popularly used in the 1800s for maintenance of tracks or as a mining car and powered by passengers manually pushing the trolley.

North Korea has imposed tough lockdown restrictions in the country, suspending most international travel shutting its border to stop coronavirus from slipping into the country as the Kim Jong Un regime did not report even a single confirmed Covid case.

The Russians’ journey started with 32 hours of travel by train which is infamous for its slow speed. They took a bus ride for two hours to reach the border where they loaded their bags in a railroad trolley and pushed it for a kilometre, crossing Tumen River that separates Russia from North Korea.

Russian diplomats and their families took the labyrinthine journey as the only option amid Covid restrictions in North Korea

According to the ministry, their colleagues from the ministry of foreign affairs waited for them at the Russian station of Vladivostok and a bus was provided to them to get to the airport to take rest of the journey home by airplane.

Many diplomats and aid workers were stranded in North Korea amid strict border restrictions. Several have chosen to leave the country as media reports suggested a shortage of food and lack of medical infrastructure.

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