The North Korean envoy landed at Beijing airport on Tuesday and was to meet with Chinese officials before traveling on to the United States on Wednesday, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
He would be the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years.
Kim Yong-chol sat just metres away from Trump's daughter Ivanka at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in February - one of the first signs of a diplomatic thaw between North Korea and the USA and South Korea after tensions over its nuclear weapons reached a breaking point.
WITH the fate of a June 12 summit in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un still uncertain, a Kim lookalike shocked many pedestrians in the Southeast Asian city-state.
Since then, North Korea has rejected US demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons programme that experts say could threaten the United States.
When Kim Yong-chol lands in NY this week, he will become the most senior North Korean envoy to hold talks with American officials on United States soil in 18 years.
Kim is set to take a flight to NY departing at 1 p.m., Wednesday.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) was unable to immediately confirm the report, with a U.S. State Department spokesperson telling NK News that they had no updates. Kim was seen in the Beijing airport on Tuesday by Associated Press Television.
Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, watches the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony. Moon said on Sunday that Kim requested the meeting, only the fourth ever by leaders of the two countries since the Korean War.
North Korea's despotic leader has ordered Kim Yong-chol, a highly-ranked official in the hermit kingdom's one-party government, to travel to the US. Sung Kim, the former USA ambassador to South Korea who is now ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, a United States official told Reuters.
Rapid-fire diplomacy played out on two continents Tuesday in advance of an "expected" summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, the strengthening resolve coming after a series of high-risk, high-reward gambits by the two leaders.
Moon, who has lobbied hard for nuclear negotiations between Trump and Kim Jong Un, held a surprise meeting with the North Korean leader Saturday in an effort to keep the summit alive. The North Korean delegation is led by Kim Chang Son, a top logistics and protocol official, Yonhap said. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this.
Trump briefly canceled the talks last week, citing "open hostility" from the North, but since then both sides have dialed down the rhetoric and the process appears to be back on track.
But aides nearly immediately suggested the meeting could still get back on track.
Trump also put in place two U.S. Navy carrier battle groups while mounting aggressive demonstrations of U.S. air power to lend credence to his promises of a massive retaliation against North Korea in the event it mounted attacks on either South Korea or America. Kim is blacklisted by both the USA and South Korea. And then on Tuesday, a top North Korean aide headed to the USA for talks.
Despite Kim's apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are lingering doubts about whether he will fully relinquish his nuclear weapons, which he may see as his only guarantee of survival.
The U.S. has called for "complete, verifiable and irreversible" dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.
Kim would be the highest-ranking North Korean to visit the US since General Jo Myong Rok went to the White House in 2000 and met then-President Bill Clinton. "I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial nation one day".