The Russians are fleeing North Korea in a hand-pushed rail car

Moscow-North Korea closed its borders more than a year ago due to an epidemic, ground flights and the closure of its borders with neighboring China and Russia.

Some Russian diplomats found a way out this week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday that eight employees and family members of the North Korean embassy had chosen an unusual route – which included a bus route and a hand-pushed rail car – to reach and cross the country’s border with Russia.

The group included the third secretary of the embassy, ​​Vladislav Sorokin, and his 3-year-old daughter, Varya, the ministry’s official Facebook page said. He posted a photo of three children sitting next to several large boxes and suitcases, with three adults pushing the railroad car along the railroad tracks.

According to the ministry, the railroad car had to be made specifically for the nearly-mile road that included the bridge over the Tumannaya River.

When the group arrived in Khasan, the country’s Far East Russian border post, foreign ministry staff met with them and took them to a airport in Vladivostok, the ministry said. The ministry said in a separate statement that traveling by rail is the only possible way for diplomats to cross the border.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov, a career diplomat himself, said in a speech on Friday that the road had shown that the diplomatic service could be “very rough and difficult” and only looks “very beautiful and elegant” from the outside.

North Korea closed its borders in January 2020 because it feared the Covid-19 epidemic could break out its public health system and damage an economy that had already struggled with international sanctions.

The country has also deployed soldiers along China’s border with “shoot to kill” orders to prevent smugglers from bringing in the corona virus, General Robert B. Abrams, the U.S. military commander. In South Korea, he said in September.

The leader of the north, Kim Jongun, refused international support after devastating floods arrived in the country last summer, citing similar fears of the virus spreading, state media reported.

However, Mr. Kim is apparently willing to import Covid-19 vaccines. Covax, the international distributor of vaccines, reports that North Korea is expected to receive nearly two million doses of AstraZeneca for about 25 million people by mid-this year.

The northern state media has long insisted that the country does not have a confirmed case of Covid-19, but outside experts are skeptical.