For the hours that went by while the world was guessing whether, when and how North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would travel to Russia, AP had exclusive images of Kim’s signature green train at the border between North Korea and Russia, offering strong indication his travels to Russia would be imminent.
It was a long shot to begin with, given the secrecy surrounding Kim’s travel plans. Reporter Dake Kang and photographer Han Guan Ng spent two days staking out a location in China where the sole bridge connecting North Korea and Russia is visible.
By around 8:00 Greenwich Mean Time, Sept. 11, South Korean media began reporting Kim’s train had “departed” for North Korea. Kim’s location, however, was unclear. As conflicting reports over when and whether Kim had departed, the AP crew had already seen Kim’s train approaching the bridge and reversing course back to the station. Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul kept the team informed of developments amid conflicting reports and updated the text story with what the crew saw.
The train never crossed the bridge that day, but the first AP pictures moved at 12:00 GMT. AP’s images offered the first visual indication that Kim would be traveling by train and that he was possibly already at the Russian border.
The visuals were used by Wall Street Journal, New York Times and other outlets. The video ran on numerous outlets, including TV Asahi, NTV Japan, the Koreans: YTN, Yonhap, OBS, SBS, Arirang, Hong Kong and Taiwanese media, ABC, ABC Australia, Al Jazeera, France 24, Channel News Asia, and Russia Channel 1.
For exclusive images that were used around the world, Kang and Ng win this week’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.