A green and yellow train that left Beijing Tuesday may have been carrying North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
This would be the first time that Kim Jong Un has left North Korea since he took control of the country in 2011.
The train, which arrived in the Chinese capital Monday, closely resembles one Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, built to take him to Beijing and Moscow. Further fueling speculation, Chinese officials blocked off access to roads outside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, used during former trips to China by North Korean leaders.
Is it Kim Jong Un?
Journalists are citing anonymous sources, but if anyone outside of North Korea and China knows for sure they have been keeping quiet about it. When he was asked about the reports of the trip at a news briefing Monday, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters, “We don’t know if they’re necessarily true.”
The South China Morning Post, an English-language news outlet based in Hong Kong, cited anonymous sources confirming that it was Kim himself on the train.
CNN cited "[a]n official with deep knowledge of North Korea" who confirmed that there is a "strong possibility" that Kim had made the trip.
Bloomberg anonymously cited “three people with knowledge of the visit,” who also confirmed Kim's presence on the train.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters that she had “no information for the moment” about such a visit, but that any news would be released in “due course.”
Some experts on North Korea, cited by CNN, are speculating that rather than Kim Jong Un, the train could be carrying his sister, Kim Yo Jung, the head of the Korean Worker’s Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department.
Here’s why this trip would be important
Since the Korean War, China has been North Korea’s strongest and most important ally. However, since Kim Jong Un took over for his father, the relationship between the two countries has become a bit rockier. Kim Jong Un has removed several of his father’s top-ranking officials who also happened to have close relations with the Chinese government.
China has said that it does not want a nuclear Korean peninsula, something that Kim has been determined to bring about.
This news comes as President Donald Trump prepares for a meeting with Kim.
Here’s what we know about Kim Jong Un’s personal trains
According to South Korean news sources cited by the New York Times, Kim’s father and grandfather travelled in a convoy of three trains, each bulletproof and weighing so much that they could only reach a top speed of 37 mph. The train carrying the North Korean leader would be sandwiched between one carrying advanced security, and a final train carrying bodyguards and any additional supplies.
Konstantin Pulikovsky, a former Russian diplomat, described his experience on one of these trains: “The train was staffed by ‘beautiful lady conductors’ and live lobsters were shipped to stops along the route, along with cases of Bordeaux and Burgundy red wines.”