A flurry of US news reports say that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in China. If true, it would be Kim’s first visit to China and his first foreign trip since his ascension as leader in 2011.
Bloomberg reported on Monday that Kim was in Beijing, citing three sources.
The stories follow an earlier report by South Korea news service Daily NK that large screens were erected by North Korean authorities at a key railroad bridge with China last week to conceal what was believed to be the transit of a VIP. This spurred rumors that Kim was paying a secret visit to Russia, as well as China.
“There have been rumors [Kim Jong-un] made a stopover in China on his way to Russia,” said an unnamed North Korean source quoted by NK Daily.
The last time such preparations occurred was said to be when late leader Kim Jong-il visited China in 2011.
Other reports said a train belonging to the Kim family had stopped in the Chinese capital. There was also said to be a large security presence outside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where previous North Korean leaders had stayed in the past.
The Japanese press has reported that a high-ranking Pyongyang official arrived in Beijing on Monday ahead of the summit with South Korea later in April.
A senior South Korean official said of the fast-breaking events, “The presidential Blue House is watching things in Beijing very closely, while keeping all possibilities open.”
“The fact that the summits are being held has been beyond our expectations. Right now, the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is moving very quickly and it would be inadvisable to think with prejudice,” the official added.