The diplomatic realm will have to make room for North Korea as young leader Kim Jong-un heads to uncharted seas of foreign affairs.

The recently named marshal invited Chinese political dignitaries to his first diplomatic banquet, according to Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency. Kim was reported as telling the head of the Communist Party’s international affairs office, Wang Jiaru: “Developing the economy and improving livelihoods so that the (North) Korean people lead happy and civilized lives is the goal the Worker’s Party is struggling towards”. The meeting reflects the strengthening relations between China and North Korea. Pyongyang sees Beijing as its main ally and trading partner. This also comes amid flooding in the country that has prompted North Korea to seek international help.

Kim appears to be steering North Korea towards a different direction from his late father, Kim Jong-il. The young leader shuffled the military leadership and made a rare move of sharing a part of his private life by introducing his wife. The previously isolated state also opened its doors to Chinese tourists and welcomed foreign officials during the opening of a theme park in Pyongyang. According to Asahi Shimbun, a foreign correspondent from The Associated Press was allowed to attend a ‘closed’ event earlier this year.