중국 "김정은 19~20일 방중"
Kim Jong-un made his third official trip to China, one of the regime's major allies.
What's interesting is that this time around, the North Korean leader's visit was made official by Beijing's state media, and there was little secrecy surrounding its preparations.
Kim Mok-yeon has our top story.
On Tuesday, China's foreign ministry confirmed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's surprise trip to Beijing, calling it a visit intended to strengthen "strategic communication" between the two countries.
"We hope this visit can help to further deepen China-North Korea relations, strengthen strategic communication between both countries on important issues and promote regional peace and stability."
But the visit was not too much of a surprise -- even before the announcement, sources in the aviation industry had said a special plane, identified as an Ukrainian Antonov-148 carrying the logo of North Korea's state airline Air Koryo,... left Pyongyang a little before 9:30 AM, Korea time.
Japan's Nikkei newspaper had also reported that Kim had been preparing for a trip to China as soon as Tuesday.
Kim's trip to China marks the third of its kind this year, following the ones in March and May when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Several Chinese media have been speculating that Kim would be meeting his Chinese counterpart late Tuesday for summit talks, in which they would likely discuss ways forward on the agreements reached at the North Korea-U.S. summit held on June 12.
But so far there has been no word on that.
Kim Jong-un's latest visit is also significant in that it marks the first time Chinese state media have reported on a trip of his ahead of time.
The last two times he went to China, nothing was disclosed until Kim had arrived back to Pyongyang.
An expert in the field says this could reflect China's efforts to establish a solid role for itself on issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
".. by openly announcing Kim's third visit to Beijing, it seems like the Chinese government wants to have a guarantee of its participation in the upcoming multilateral discussions and negotiations on announcing the end of the Korean War."
From North Korea's perspective, pundits say that by publicly sharing the details of Kim's trip, China has granted the regime more legitimacy, which furthers its desire to be treated like any other country.
Kim Mok-yeon, Arirang News.