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 p.m. (6 a.m. Monday 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 hotel and entertainment mecca with an infinity pool, lookout point, and the Ce La Vi bar and restaurant on the rooftop.
North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim enjoyed the “nocturnal bird’s-eye view” from the Marina Bay Sands “observation platform.”
“He said Singapore is clean and beautiful and every building is stylish as he heard of in the past, adding he is going to learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future,” KCNA reported.
On his stroll, Kim had been briefed on urban development plans.
“Going round the Great Flower Garden, one of the prides of Singapore, Sky Park located on the roof of the world-famous Marina Bay Sands building and Singapore Port, he learned about the social and economic development of the Republic of Singapore,” KCNA reported.
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 KCNA 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 a.m. Tuesday (9 p.m. Monday ET).
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.
CNN’s Sarah Faidell in Hong Kong, Yoonjung Seo in Singapore and Joe Sterling in Atlanta contributed to this report.