North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un traveled with his beloved armored train from his capital Pyongyang to Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome. With ancient technology from the beginnings of the industrial age we went to Putin’s new high-tech location. Two powerful diesel locomotives pulled Kim’s special train.

Kim’s monster is quite impressive: the olive-green wagons with a continuous yellow stripe have a special protective paint that prevents the train from being detected by enemy radar. According to information from the South Korean Ministry for Unification in Seoul, the floor and walls can withstand targeted explosive attacks. The windows are bulletproof.

However, the all-round armor makes the train quite cumbersome. The steel colossus moves forward at a cruising speed of just 60 kilometers per hour. It probably took Kim and his entourage a total of around 40 hours to cover the 2,600 kilometers through Russia’s Far East. This is of course extremely complicated. This raises the question: Why does the Korean dictator even use such a cumbersome and inconvenient means of travel?

It is usually said that Kim uses his armored train for security reasons. But that’s not very plausible. After all, he was also seen in a comfortable private jet. And he traveled to his summit meeting with former US President Donald Trump in June 2018 on a Chinese airliner. So it would be more convenient.

The real reason for Kim’s strange means of travel is different: the dictator is using his trip to Russia to pompously showcase his power. And there is hardly an international media that hasn’t pulled out all the available material on the strange armored train from its archives. All the astonished reports about the massive special train prove how well the enigmatic dictator’s propaganda strategy is working.

No wonder Kim knows his way around productions: his father was a passionate cinema lover and owned thousands of films. In this collection, Kim was able to learn how to bring powerful images into the world. Today he is a master at creating memes and iconic scenes. His whimsical hairstyle alone is perfect branding. Here he plays in a class with Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.

A tank train is one of the best visual representations of totalitarian power. The ruler rolls leisurely through his empire and the friendly states with a huge entourage. All railway crossings must be secured and all train stations closed. Cell phone networks must be muted and residents must be kept off the streets.

Another train with security guards has to drive in front of the dictator’s steel monster and check the stations and route. Behind the dictator train there is a third train with bodyguards. The entourage carries armored limousines and helicopters so that they can escape in an emergency. This is all very inconvenient. But what the heck: the more trouble is made for someone, the more powerful they are. Doctor No wouldn’t travel any other way. True emperors drive armored trains.

Inside Kim’s armored train it’s like pre-revolutionary Versailles. Champagne, cognac and Swiss cheese are served. There is an opportunity to relax in the spa area. Russian official Konstantin Pulikowsky once accompanied Kim’s father on a train trip and recalls: “It was possible to order any dish of Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French cuisine.” The rolling fortress is also a rumbling palace. There’s no comparison to the German government’s despicable breakdowns.

The fact that there are hardly any pictures of Kim’s trip does not hurt its propaganda effect. On the contrary. This makes his train journey mysterious. The armored train seems like a miracle vehicle from a Jules Verne novel. A direct relative of Captain Nemo’s submarine “Nautilus” with its library and its 12,000 books.

With unerring dictator instincts, Kim understood that an armored train was the best possible means of transport, especially for a trip to Russia. After all, no other vehicle can better pay homage to the country’s glorious history. Chief revolutionary Leon Trotsky personally also preferred to travel in an armored train. From 1918 to 1920, War Commissar Trotsky drove across the vast front of the Russian Civil War in a rolling fortress and coordinated the attacks of his newly formed Red Army from the rails.

In his memoirs, Trotsky writes: “During the most strenuous years of the revolution, my personal life was inseparable from the life of the platoon. The platoon, on the other hand, was inseparable from the life of the Red Army. The platoon connected the front with the base, solved urgent problems directly on site, taught, made an impression, cared for, rewarded and punished.”

Armored trains were one of the main reasons for the Bolshevik victory during the Russian Civil War. While there were only 38 armored trains in 1918, by 1920 there were already 103. In a country with only a few paved roads, armored trains were the most efficient means of transport. Only with their help could a front of 8,000 kilometers be controlled.

You don’t actually need more than one armored train to win a war. Or again in Trotsky’s words: “You needed good commanders, a few dozen experienced fighters, about a dozen communists ready to make any sacrifice, boots for the barefoot, a bathhouse, a vigorous propaganda campaign, food, underwear, tobacco and matches. The train took care of all of that.”

Trotsky also took advantage of the propaganda effect of his vehicle. In his memoirs he recalls that the mysterious train seemed infinitely worse than it actually was.

Kim’s father and grandfather preferred to travel in armored high-security trains. The family tradition is based directly on the friendship between North Korea and revolutionary Russia. After all, it is said that it was Stalin himself who gave Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, a wood-paneled high-security train. The armored train is a rattling symbol of North Korean-Russian friendship.

By choosing his sensational means of travel, Kim is consciously citing the victorious Russian Revolution. He is explicitly flattering Vladimir Putin, who repeatedly invokes Russia’s glorious history to justify his war against Ukraine. What neo-Soviet imperialist wouldn’t want to be like Trotsky?

Last but not least, Kim is sending a clear threatening message to the West with his armored train. He suggests: Putin and I will win like Trotsky did back then. The monster is intended to clearly demonstrate that nuclear powers can still terrify the world even with archaic technology – armor plates, rivets, diesel and grease. Who needs nuclear missiles to annex countries? The steel colossus rumbles that conventional military equipment, such as Kim will soon be supplying to Putin, is completely sufficient to terrorize a country. Just like it happens every day in Ukraine.

With his leisurely ruler’s parade, the Korean dictator is signaling that even systems from the day before yesterday can stay in power for a very, very long time. Just like the old armored train from Stalin’s workshops.