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Mr Kim arrived in Beijing this week on a similar train to the one used by his father, Kim Jong-il. A Russian emissary who travelled on that train in 2001 immortalised it in a memoir , describing live lobsters being airlifted to it every day, silver chopsticks, and a parade of beautiful female companions. But there is a regular, decidedly less decadent, train service that runs between Beijing and Pyongyang four times a week. The K27/K28 train route goes via Chinese cities such as Tianjin and the border city of Dandong, before crossing the Sino-Korean Bridge of Friendship into North Korea. Simon Cockerell, the general manager of Koryo Tours, a travel company specialising in trips to North Korea, says the number of passengers every year “is easily in the tens of thousands.” Each Beijing-Pyongyang train can carry up to 96 passengers. And there is a daily train from Dandong to Pyongyang, which can carry between 50 and 150. The number of North Korean visitors to China has increased fairly steadily over the past two decades. In 2016, 210,000 North Koreans visited China, according to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA). There is a significant gender disparity – for example, in 2015, 84% of trips were made by men. There are caveats around these figures.
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