North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s train passed through Hyesan Station and away from Samjiyon at daybreak on Wednesday, Daily NK sources reported on Thursday. 

Daily NK previously reported [in Korean] that Kim’s train had passed through Hyesan Station towards Samjiyon at daybreak this past Sunday. Given these reports, it appears that Kim stayed in the region for at least three days.

“A special train carrying our Highest Dignity [Kim Jong Un] passed through Hyesan Station at about 4 AM on Wednesday,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on Thursday. “Kim had events planned from Sunday to Thursday, including a train tour and visits to construction sites in the Samjiyon area. It appears he left early, because the special train passed through Hyesan Station at daybreak Wednesday morning.” 

Daily NK’s own investigation found Hyesan locals who claimed they had spotted Kim’s train passing through Hyesan Station at about 4:10 AM. 

Daily NK sources said that Ryanggang Province party committee members and the local train station office organized train track operators into shifts to handle Kim’s train. The train track operators were put on rotating night shifts from Saturday to Wednesday until 7 AM before they were returned to their regular posts. 

The operators reportedly had to bring their own rice, blankets and other supplies, and ate and slept on-site. 


Rumors in the area suggest that Kim Jon Un’s visit by train sparked a crisis among government officials in Ryanggang Province, which borders China, from Saturday evening to Wednesday morning.

“The border patrol was in a state of total crisis,” according to another source from Ryanggang Province. “They had to work throughout the night. Not even officers could go home, but had to wait. That’s how strained the atmosphere was – not even an ant would have been able to walk around freely.”

The source added that local police and security officers were equally on high alert. 

Hyesan denizens located on the main thoroughfare to Samjiyon also faced tighter restrictions on movement. In fact, they had noticed an unusual atmosphere and wondered what had been happening in the past few days. North Korea’s border patrol reportedly tightened restrictions over the border more than usual to the extent that even smugglers were not able to conduct their activities.

What this suggests is that while Hyesan residents were unaware of the specific reasons and context behind the uptick in security, they were able to see that the regime had tightened security in the area. 

“Hyesan denizens found out through news reports that the Great Leader went to Samjiyon and Mt. Paektu,” the source told Daily NK.

“For Hyesan residents, a visit from the Great Leader is a disturbance because there is a great fuss every time he comes,” the source explained. “People complain that life is hard enough and ask why he keeps coming and causing such disruptions in their lives. They complain that his visits never lead to any benefits for them.” 

The source added that there was also grumbling about the fact that Kim did not even take a commemorative photograph with construction workers mobilized to work on projects in Samjiyon.


Another source near Samjiyon mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s “military march on horseback,” saying, “Chairman Kim ascends Mt. Paektu at key moments, so I guess this particular trip was because he needed to make some weighty decisions.” 

“This particular trip is unique because he ascended Mt. Paektu on a white horse. It’s likely that this ascent to Mt. Paektu on a white horse will have a much greater impact on North Koreans than any mass rally,” the source continued. “It seems like he is attempting to make North Koreans believe that he has reached the same stature as his grandfather [Kim Il Sung].”

“Now the government will spread propaganda about his ascent of the mountain on a white horse through the media, literature and documentary films,” the source added.  

In fact, the first page of Rodong Sinmun on Thursday was filled with articles on Kim’s visit to Mt. Paektu. Carrying on from the previous day, the paper emphasized the great meaning of the event. “His horseback march in Mt. Paektu is a great event of weighty importance in the history of the Korean revolution,” one article trumpeted. 

Rodong Sinmun also reported on the reactions of North Koreans to the news of Kim’s Mt. Paektu ascent. People across North Korea’s party, military and business spheres reportedly reacted with feverish excitement to the news. 

*Translated by Violet Kim

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Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to