Mystery surrounds possible Kim Jong Un visit to China

Mystery surrounds possible Kim Jong Un visit to China

At Kim Jong Il's mausoleum in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, the office auto that he once used is preserved at a museum exhibit, complete with a desk and computer - proof, guides at the mausoleum say, according to the Associated Press, that the leaders never stopped working for their people.

The arrival of the high security train with tinted windows at Beijing's central train station on Monday night fueled speculation that Kim was visiting the Chinese capital to engage in secret talks with his South Korean counterpart, The New York Times reported.

The ministry confirmed by Beijing or Pyongyang that if Kim Jong Un was indeed part of the delegation, it would mark the first foreign trip Kim since he officially became leader of the reclusive state after his father Kim Jong Il's death in December 2011.

A "special train" carrying a high-level Korean official was spotted Dandong, a city on China's northeastern border, according to Kyodo News.

North Korea, too, has cause to seek China's ear.

Some speculated it was Kim Jong-un's younger sister Kim Yo-jong making the visit.

South Korean analysts were doubtful the visitor is Kim Jong Un.

North Korean news media has a history of publishing its former leader's China visits but only after he almost finished his trips, probably because of security reasons.

North Korea also said nothing, and South Korea appeared in the dark. And the Bloomberg news agency cited unidentified sources as saying the North Korean leader was in Beijing.

Since then the Kim government has gone on a "charm offensive" by participating in the recent winter Olympics in the South and by sending Kim's sister to lead a North Korean delegation to the Games, and by agreeing to engage in nuclear talks with Washington and Seoul.

If anything, the trip recalls those Kim's father, Kim Jong Il made in the 2000s, in that it used his own personal train, which moves slowly and requires a huge security detail.

Also on Monday evening, the Beijing railway bureau warned on its microblog, without giving a reason, of multiple train delays of up to two hours in the Beijing region. Past glimpses of it, however, during Kim Jong Il's regime revealed it to be a party train on the inside and a massively secure form of transportation on the outside.

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.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the United States could not confirm reports of Kim's visit to China, but instead reiterated President Donald Trump's plans to meet with Kim.

The last time that specific train carried someone other than North Korea's supreme leader to Beijing was in 1983, when Kim Jong Il, not yet in charge, made the journey, Andray Abrahamian, the senior advisor to Choson Exchange tweeted.

The elder Kim - who lived like a playboy but famously hated flying - is said to have decked out his trains for parties, bouts of heavy boozing and karaoke.

On the contrary, the official said, a summit with Xi would underscore Kim's standing as a world leader.

His visits were confirmed by Chinese and North Korean state media only after he had left the country.

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