Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived for his first visit to North Korea on Thursday, according to one welcomed that included a 21-gun greeting and a jubilant of thousands.
He arrived by plane at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport at noon local time for his two-day summit with Kim, reported China's state-run news agency Xinhua.
Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, personally met Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, on the asphalt, Xinhua said.
But the fact that Xi flew to North Korea highlights a difference between the two leaders some say have bothered Kim earlier.
Although Kim flies within the country by plane – on a 40-year-old Soviet Ilyushin Il-62 plan – he almost always takes took his international travels, though he extended his journey by several days.
The map below shows a 2,000-mile journey that he took by train from Pyongyang to Hanoi earlier this year to his second summit with US President Donald Trump.
Back then, Kim left his country by plane, at least as a leader, was to Singapore in June for his first meeting with Trump.
To do so, he borrowed a Boeing 747 from Air China, which is owned by the Chinese government. He had to borrow a plane because his own was considered unsafe for the 2 900 km journey.
His use of a Chinese aircraft for his one-on-one meeting with Trump, which China did not attend, invited comments that he was too dependent on Beijing.
Kim did not appreciate these comments, The New York Times reported.
When he made his next major train journey, Times Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Beijing Renmin University, quoted at that time.
Cheng said: "He will not show the world his strong dependence on China by waving his hand in front of China's national flag on a Chinese plane as he did at the Singapore airport."
"Traveling by train is a forced choice."
Read more: Within Kim Jong's personal train – which is shot-tight, it has white meeting rooms and its own red carpet
A hero is welcome to Xi
Xi & # 39; s trip to North Korea is the first from a Chinese leader in 14 years and he was received as a hero.
According to Xinhua, North Korea held a "big welcome ceremony" for Xi at the airport, which included a 21-gun greeting, played by both national anthems and an army march.
Nearly 10,000 people lined up at the airport, waving flowers and chanting slogans to welcome the Chinese delegation, Xinhua said.
Then Xi drew the airport into a huge motorcade which included 21 motorcycles. After arriving at the center of Pyongyang, the Chinese leader then rescued an open car with Kim for a central square.
The state visit comes as both countries relationship to the US remains more acidic.
Beijing and Washington are locked in a long-standing trade war that has seen both sides impose hundreds of trillion dollars on each other's exports, and the Trump administration is trying to limit the influence of Chinese technology around the world.
North Korea's relationship with the US has also been leaking since Kim and Trump's February summit in Vietnam ended without agreement.
Last month, Pyongyang conducted new missile tests, which US security advisor John Bolton allegedly violated UN Security Council resolutions.
On Wednesday, both countries' state media published an essay written by Xi that boasted two country's friendship and praised North Korea for moving in the right direction by trying to resolve political problems on the Korean Peninsula.
According to Xinhua, Xi wrote: "I want to pay a state visit to the DPRK with good wishes to continue our friendship and write a new chapter in our relationships."
The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the formal name for North Korea.
Read more: Chinese President Xi Jinping praises North Korea prior to his historic 2-day trip to Pyongyang – the first for a Chinese leader in 14 years
Kim has tried to alleviate international sanctions imposed its regime, but they have remained in place. China has remained committed to these sanctions despite North Korea's largest trading partner.