Russian President Vladimir Putin was in South Korea on Wednesday to push a pet project for a new major trading route linking Asia and Europe by rail that requires prying open North Korea.
Putin hopes his brief visit will include the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the ambitious project, which envisages an ‘Iron Silk Road’ uniting the rail networks of South and North Korea and connecting them to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Russia took a first step in September, when it completed a 54-kilometre track from its southeast border town of Khasan to the North Korean port of Rajin.
Located in the far northeast, where the borders of North Korea, Russia and China converge, Rajin offers a warm-water port for the North’s two giant neighbours.
Putin’s desire is to see the rail link extended through North Korea, across the world’s last Cold War frontier, and all the way down to the southern South Korean port of Busan.