With pandemic restrictions hindering cross-border travel all around the world, one group of Russian diplomats has found a unique way to return home.
Eight employees of the Russian embassy in North Korea and their families, including a three-year-old child, were pictured travelling on a hand-pushed rail trolley.
Russia”s foreign ministry said in a Facebook post the group had started their “long and difficult journey to get home” on Thursday.
“Borders have been closed for more than a year and passenger traffic has been stopped,” the ministry said.
The individuals reportedly began their journey with a 32-hour train ride from Pyongyang, followed by two hours on a bus.
They then travelled on a rail trolley across the Russia-North Korea border.
“To do this, they needed to make a cart in advance, put it on the rails, place belongings on it, seat the children – and go,” the ministry added.
Photos posted on Facebook show the trolley, loaded with suitcases, as it makes its way through the North Korean countryside.
A viral video also shows some members of the group smiling and shouting for the camera as they push the trolley over a railway bridge across the Tumannaya River, which divides North Korea and Russia.
According to the foreign ministry, the trolley was pushed along the rail for more than a kilometre by the third secretary of the embassy, Vladislav Sorokin, acting as the “engine”.
“At the Russian border station of Khasan, our people were met by colleagues from the Foreign Ministry Office in Vladivostok and a bus provided by the Primorsky Territory administration, which delivered the compatriots who returned home to the Vladivostok airport,” the Facebook post added.
The Interfax news agency reported on Friday that the group later took a flight to Moscow from the far-eastern Russian city.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the work of diplomats is “difficult and thorny”, adding that such situations like the hand-pushed wagon travel “can be seen to occur”.
Russia, which has close ties with North Korea, has maintained a significant diplomatic presence in the country, which has long suffered from severe food shortages.
Pyongyang claims, despite international scepticism, to be coronavirus-free, even though the country sealed its borders in January 2020 and has halted passenger traffic.