Japan's Kyodo news agency says one of North Korea's key diplomats has been spotted at Beijing's international airport-- prompting speculation some informal US-North Korea diplomacy may be about to take place.
Han Song-ryol is director-general of the US affairs department at North Korea's Foreign Ministry.
Following Han's apparent arrival in Beijing, Kyodo cited an unnamed source saying he may be on his way to Malaysia.
The Kyodo report coincides with Washington's decision to name US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun as its senior diplomat on North Korea policy.
The Foreign Ministry in Seoul is checking the report.