On Wednesday, former President Jimmy Carter arrives in North Korea to seek the release of American hostage, Aijalon Mahli Gomes.
On Thursday, reports in the South Korean media indicate that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, as well as his apparent heir apparent Kim Jong-un, decided it was a good time to head to China for a visit.
Further, there are reports that Aijalon Mahli Gomes could depart North Korea with Mr Carter some time on Thursday.
So among the reasons for Kim’s trip to China:
1. Trade could be a motive for the trip, since North Korea relies on aid and trade from China to prop up its tottering state-run economy.
2. Or the succession to the ailing Kim Jong-Il could be on the agenda, prior to a major conference of the ruling party of North Korea being held soon to discuss this issue.
3. Another possible motive for the trip, say analysts, is discussion of North Korea's nuclear program, since China has been making moves to resume the six-nation talks.