On Thursday, two trains quietly arrived at the Jilin railway station in China's northeastern province, bordering North Korea. The first one carried North Korean security guards, who disembarked and checked the safety of the area, including looking for hidden explosives on the railway tracks. Two minutes later, a second train, with opaque windows, arrived. This one, at least according to the South Korean media, carried a special guest: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
The Dear Leader stepped off the special bullet-proof train, which is often described in press reports as a "five-star hotel that runs on the railways" -- complete with satellite communication equipment, plus a separate bedroom and office. It runs at 150 to 180 kilometers per hour and yet allegedly tracks so smoothly that even cups don't shake.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is believed to be making a secretive visit to China for meetings related to the leader's heir and the nuclear deal. It is not clear whether the heir, Kim's youngest son, is along for the ride.
Both Beijing and Pyongyang have so far kept mum on the visit. But multiple diplomatic sources in China said that they believe Kim is in the country. International media organizations with bureaus in Beijing swiftly dispatched their reporters to the border city.
Kim's China trip came as a surprise. Indeed, he had been thought to be meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who arrived in North Korea just a day earlier to seek the release of a U.S. citizen held there since January.