Kim Jong Un on way to China for summit

Erika Holt
January 9, 2019

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA-North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, arrived in China on Monday for a four-day visit at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Chinese and North Korean official media said.

At a regular briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had this to say when asked whether there was a connection between the visit and a possible second Trump Kim summit.

But he also warned: "We even might find ourselves in a situation where we have no other choice but to find a new way".

Moon had been expecting to meet Kim in Seoul in December - a meeting that did not transpire for unexplained reasons.

Kim left Pyongyang Monday for a visit that is slated to end Thursday, North Korean and Chinese state media reported.

The North, which touts itself as a socialist paradise, is extremely sensitive about defections, especially among its elite, and has previously insisted that they are South Korean or USA plots to undermine its government. But it's often been lost in the glare of post- Singapore showboating.

"North Korea has long used mainland China and its banks as a transit gateway and funding source for its many illicit businesses the world over ..."

Reports suggest that the summit may be held in Hanoi, Bangkok or Hawaii.

Diplomatic sources said the last Italy heard of him was when officials received a note a year ago from the North Korean government saying that Mr Jo was being replaced.

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At the Singapore summit Kim and Trump signed a vaguely-worded pledge about the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but progress has since stalled amid disagreements over what that means, with meetings and visits cancelled at short notice. He assumed power after the death of his father the following year.

A high-profile defection by one of North Korea's elite would be a huge embarrassment for leader Kim Jong Un as he pursues diplomacy with Seoul and Washington and seeks to portray himself as a player in worldwide geopolitics.

Kim's arrival coincides with trade talks being held in Beijing between the United States and China.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised China's support for resolving the North Korean crisis and said he did not think the U.S. trade dispute with China would affect this.

"Kim also seeks Beijing's help in getting worldwide sanctions eased". China has never been as supportive of sanctions as Washington.

The United States insists on maintaining sanctions pressure until denuclearization is complete. The North has claimed that while it has done all it could reasonably be expected to do, Washington has remained hostile and unbending.

Pyongyang requires diplomats going overseas to leave at least one child at home, but those from the top echelons or seen as the most loyal to the regime get some exceptions. "But it is a place where you and I can achieve the dream we all have".

Many of them have expressed frustration over what they described as an oppressive police state in Pyongyang or desires for their families to have new lives in South Korea or the West. North Korea's former acting ambassador to Rome, Jo Song-gil, has been missing since November. Since the cease-fire, Beijing has exerted its economic and political influence over Pyongyang.

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