North Korean state media have confirmed that China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin arrived in Pyongyang on Monday for talks with senior officials.
The Korean Central News Agency said the talks related to issues on the Chinese-North Korean border.
Although Japan's Kyodo news first reported that Liu had made the unexpected trip earlier in the day, officials at South Korea's foreign ministry said they had already been made aware of the trip by their Chinese counterparts and reiterated that they had been told discussions were expected to be on border-related issues.
It's the first time a Chinese official has visited Pyongyang in 8 months since the country's top nuclear envoy Wu Dawei went for three days to meet with several senior officials.
That trip came shortly after the regime's fourth nuclear test and the talks ended with no progress made in de-escalating North Korea's provocations.
Since then Pyongyang has carried our another nuclear test and launched several missiles.
But it's hoped this visit could be more fruitful.
(Korean - )
"China has been reviewing its relationship with North Korea since the autumn -- whether it should follow the international position of strong sanctions, or support the regime like it did before. I think they might have leaned towards the latter but in order to bring North Korea back to the discussion table. Either way this trip seems to be meant to let the Pyongyang leadership know of their intentions."
Although the trip may have come as a surprise, but in the coming days the international community will now be keeping a close eye on the talks.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang News.