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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Who's on Kim's Train? And Who Isn't?

SEOUL, South Korea — It's like Kremlin-watching in the former Soviet Union: to figure out the power hierarchy in North Korea, scrutinize official photos and television footage to see who's standing where on the podium.

But now, it's the train carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to Moscow that's being watched.

There are reportedly 150 people on the train. They include Yon Hyong Muk, former prime minister and a member of the North's most powerful agency, the National Defense Commission; Jon Hui Jong, Kim's chief protocol officer; and Kim Yong Chun, chief of the military's general staff.

Yon headed talks with South Korea that led to a nonaggression agreement in 1991. Inter-Korean tension made the deal little more than symbolic.

Television footage showed Yon and Jon with Kim Jong-il when he met Russian officials shortly after crossing from North Korea into Russia at the beginning of his trip July 26.

Kim Yong Chun was spotted late Tuesday when Kim Jong-il arrived in the Western Siberian city of Omsk, according to Choi Byung-suk, a video analyst at the South Korean Unification Ministry.

Choi said Kim Yong Chun made a public appearance in Pyongyang one day after the train left for Moscow, so he likely flew in to join the entourage later.

Absent these days is Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, a key aide to Kim Jong- il. South Korean officials believe the 71-year-old vice marshal is sick.

The whereabouts of Kim Yong Nam, North Korea's ceremonial head of state, are not publicly known.

Kim Jong-il, who is reputed to hate flying, opted for a 10-day train ride on his third foreign trip as North Korea's leader. His reluctance to go abroad has prompted rumors he is afraid of a coup if he travels.

If that is the case, most high-ranking North Korean officials who stayed in Pyongyang likely enjoy the trust of their leader.

They include Kim il Chol, minister of the People's Armed Forces, and Marshal Ri Ul Sol, 80, who sits on the National Defense Commission, which is chaired by Kim Jong-il.

Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun met the departing Czech ambassador Wednesday in Pyongyang, the North's media reported.

Another prominent dignitary who did not go to Russia is Kim Yong Sun, who handles policy with South Korea and other countries that have no formal ties with the communist state. He appeared Friday at a commemoration of the anniversary of the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.

Kim Yong Sun has made only one reported public appearance beside Kim Jong-il this year, compared to 16 times in the first half of 2000, according to South Korean officials.