North Korean leader unexpectedly stays in China, report says
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il appeared to be visiting a third area in China Sunday, South Korea's Yonhap New Agency reported.
The story was released a day after the reported departure of Kim for him homeland after his train was seen leaving Changchun, his second destination in north-eastern China, dpa reported.
Kim's trips to China are not acknowledged by either the Chinese or North Korean governments until they are over, and there was no official confirmation of the trip or where Kim was going.
Yonhap, however, cited an unnamed diplomatic source as saying that he appeared to be heading toward Yanbian, a prefecture of Jilin province on the Korean border that China has designated a Korean autonomous prefecture because of the large number of ethnic Koreans living there.
The source in Yanji, Yanbian's capital, was quoted by Yonhap as saying that the local government had been busy preparing for a guest.
"It is highly likely that it would be Chairman Kim," the source said.
The trip was Kim's second in three months to one of North Korea's few allies and was rare not only because Kim rarely travels abroad but also because he had never before travelled to China twice in one year.
Political observers speculated that the trip was aimed at winning Chinese support for Kim's plans to designate his third and youngest son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. South Korean officials said the son, believed to be in his late 20s, might have accompanied his father, 68, who is said to have suffered a stroke in 2008.
Analysts have suggested that Kim Jong Un's youth and inexperience are a concern to his father, and support from China, North Korea's main political and economic supporter, is seen as crucial for the power succession.
The elder Kim met Chinese President Hu Jintao Friday in Changchun but had not gone to Beijing, which he visited in May.
Hu was reported to have travelled to north-eastern China for a vacation on Kim Jong Il's latest trip.
After Kim Jong Il's train departed Changchun late Saturday, he was believed to be heading home, but as of Sunday, no sign of his train had been seen on the North Korean-Chinese border, Yonhap reported.