Imagery Shows Train at Kim Jong Un’s Wonsan Compound Again

Commercial satellite imagery from April 29 shows a train at the leadership train station that services Kim Jong Un’s compound in the coastal city of Wonsan.

While a train was first observed at this station on April 21 and again on April 23, it cannot be determined whether it has remained at the station since then. On April 29, the train is situated in the same position as before. However, the engine is no longer parked alongside the south end of the train. Whether the engine car has departed or was simply moved under the station’s canopy is unclear. But in either case, the train does not appear to be prepared for departure.

Figure 1. Train present at leadership train station on April 29, 2020.

Image © 2020 Planet Labs, Inc. cc-by-nc-sa 4.0.

The train’s presence does not prove the whereabouts of the North Korean leader or indicate anything about his health. While the train’s presence is clear, it is not possible to tell from the imagery whether this is, in fact, Kim Jong Un’s train or whether he was on it when it arrived. However, this train station is reserved for the exclusive use of the Kim family, lending weight to the multiple reports that Kim has been staying in the Wonsan area.

Additionally, satellite imagery has shown the presence of a train at this leadership train station on at least two occasions in the last twelve months around the times Kim Jong Un was reported to be in Wonsan.

Figure 2. Train observed on November 14, 2019.

Image: Google Earth, annotation by 38 North.

In mid-November last year, state media published photographs of Kim Jong Un in Wonsan observing the Air and Anti-Air Forces Combat Flight Contest at the Wonsan-Kalma airfield. On corresponding imagery from November 14 and 16, 2019, a train is observed at the leadership train station.

Figure 3. Train observed on July 22, 2019.

Image: Google Earth, annotation by 38 North.

A train was also observed at the leadership train station on July 22, 2019. For part of that day, Kim Jong Un was reported to have visited the Sinpo South Shipyard, located around 100 km away, inspecting a new submarine. A few days later, on July 25, he was reported to have overseen a missile test. The location of the test wasn’t disclosed by North Korean state media, but the South Korean Defense Ministry claimed the test took place from Wonsan.

As mentioned in our last report, imagery also indicates that what used to be a small, private airfield for light aircraft located alongside the leadership train station was torn up between July and November of 2019 and replaced by a horse-riding track. No alternate private airfield has been constructed in this area since then, although the main Wonsan-Kalma International Airport is nearby.

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