North Korean leader Kim Jong Un went on a surprise tour of downtown Singapore on Monday night, just hours before he was due to take part in a landmark meeting with US President Donald Trump.
At around 6:00 p.m. (6:00 a.m. ET) motorcycles and police vehicles were seen gathering outside the St. Regis Hotel, where the leader is staying during the highly-anticipated summit.
Several hours later, camera crews captured Kim and his entourage entering another luxury hotel on the island: the Marina Bay Sands — a 55-floor hotel and entertainment mecca with an infinity pool, lookout point, and the Ce La Vi bar and restaurant on the rooftop.
Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan tweeted a selfie with Kim on the surprise walkabout late Monday.
The tweet showed Balakrishnan, Kim and Singapore’s education minister Ong Ye Kung smiling broadly at the camera along with the caption: “#jalanjalan #guesswhere?”
“Jalan-jalan” means “taking a walk” in Malay.
After leaving the Marina Bay Sands, Kim was photographed walking down a road, accompanied by a phalanx of bodyguards, his face lit up occasionally by the flashes of cameras.
Cheering crowds greeted Kim during his stroll, and cameras from North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency documented his every move.
The walkabout occurred less than 12 hours before Kim’s potentially world-changing day of diplomacy, when he will become the first-ever North Korean leader to meet with a sitting US President.
There was no word on how Trump was spending the night before the summit.
Trump and Kim will meet at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday (9:00 p.m. ET on Monday).
Following an on-camera greeting, the pair will begin the summit with a one-on-one meeting with only their translators, according to a senior Trump administration official.
What comes next remains unclear. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the goal of the meeting was the “complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” adding that the US had not received any firm commitment from Pyongyang on exactly what the two sides would agree to.
North Korea has previously said it was willing to discuss denuclearization, but experts have expressed concern over the varying definitions of the term held by Washington and Pyongyang.
“North Korea has previously confirmed to us its willingness to denuclearize, and we are eager to see if those words prove sincere,” Pompeo said.
“These discussions that will take place tomorrow between Chairman Kim and President Trump will set the framework for the hard work that will follow. And we’ll see how far we get, but I’m very optimistic,” he continued.