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North Korea's Kim Jong-un reportedly in China on first diplomatic trip

Kim Jong-un, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s son and heir-apparent, reportedly visited China Friday. The trip could signal Beijing's support for Kim Jong-un to succeed his father.

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In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo Kim Jong-un, right, along with his father and North Korea leader Kim Jong-il, left, attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea. South Korea's Yonhap News Agency is reporting that the son and heir apparent of the North Korean leader is visiting China. The report says Kim Jong-un arrived in the city of Tumen in northeast China on Friday, May 20.

Kyodo News/AP

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s son and heir-apparent arrived in China Friday on his first official foreign trip, according to South Korean media.

If confirmed, the visit would appear to indicate Beijing’s support for Kim Jong-un, who is widely expected to succeed his father one day as North Korea’s supreme leader.

"North Korea has been signaling a power transition, and China has been signaling that they are fine with that,” says John Delury, who teaches International Relations at Yonsei University in Seoul. “This trip takes things to the next level."

A spokesman for the Communist Party’s International Liaison Department, responsible for relations with Pyongyang, said he knew nothing about the reported visit. In the past, trips by North Korean leaders to China have been kept secret until they were over.

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