North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is heading directly to Pyeongyang from Hanoi, without making a stop-over at Beijing like widely speculated.
According to sources familiar with Kim's route, Kim Jong-un passed through China's Tianjin at 7AM on Monday local time and then Shanhaiguan at 11AM, heading to the northeast and the Chinese border with North Korea.
Kim is expected to arrive in Pyeongyang late on Monday night.
There has been speculation that the North Korean leader could stop by in Beijing on his way back to Pyeongyang for a possible summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
That as a North Korean delegation headed by the regime's Vice Foreign Minister Ri Gil-song visited Beijing on the day of the Kim-Trump summit.
Also, Kim has visited China four times since last year -- including before and after his first summit with President Trump -- to share the latest updates and coordinate strategies, and to show off strong Pyeongyang-Beijing ties.
China is currently holding its biggest political event, Lianghui, or "Two Sessions", to discuss new laws and legislations, so that could have been why Kim didn't visit Beijing.
But a South Korean expert says:
"During the Hanoi summit, if North Korea believed that that kind of deal would be possible with the United States, then it might be surprising to the North Korean government. That means North Korea needs some time to reduce the decision making process of their own before they consult with the Chinese government."
Meanwhile, the regime's state-run media reported on Monday that the North Korean citizens are waiting for their leader to return from his "historic trip" abroad.
Pyeongyang's Rodong Sinmun at the same time highlighted Kim Jong-un's love and care towards the people.
During the weekend, the paper called on North Koreans to work harder, stressing that Kim's visit to Vietnam is for the people's peace and prosperity.
The reports are seen as part of the regime's efforts to solidify unity within the regime despite Kim Jong-un's ten-day absence.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.