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Diplomats Take 34 Hours— and a Push—to Leave N. Korea

Amid restrictions, final leg required hand-pushed rail trolley
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2021 9:49 AM CST

(Newser) – A group of Russian diplomats and their families had to travel more than 34 hours just to get out of North Korea, a journey that ended on a hand-pushed cart. Most methods of international travel, including plane and train, have been blocked in North Korea due to the coronavirus pandemic. That meant that to reach the Russian border, the employees of Russia's North Korean Embassy and their children had to travel 32 hours by train, then two hours by bus from Pyongyang. That only got them within a half-mile of the border on Thursday, reports the BBC. They had to push themselves and all of their luggage the rest of the way on a manual-powered rail trolley. The embassy's third secretary Vladislav Sorokin—who was accompanied by his 3-year-old daughter—acted as "engine," Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a Facebook post.

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It shared footage of Sorokin and another person pushing the trolley, laden with suitcases and boxes, across a bridge over the Tumen River, which serves as the only crossing point in the 11-mile-long North Korea-Russia terrestrial border. They cheered as they reached Russia. "Since the borders have been closed for more than a year and passenger traffic has been stopped, it took a long and difficult journey to get home," the ministry wrote, noting the group was then taken by bus to Vladivostok airport for a flight to their final destination. Many Western embassies have closed in North Korea over the past year with staff often having "to negotiate for weeks to arrange for special measures to allow them to depart," reports Reuters. The BBC notes diplomats from several countries were able to get out on a single flight to Vladivostok last March. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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