A two-year set of discussions on North Korea's nuclear program was a roller-coaster ride of mostly inaction, leading to the North's isolation.
The Christian Science Monitor reports Kim has been meeting with leaders in Beijing and other Chinese cities, surveying the market growth of industries such as low-wage textile work, and is starting to warm to the idea.
Alexandre Mansourov of the the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu said the Chinese strategy has shifted from anti-nuclear to economic jump starts.
North Korea's economy has gone downhill while power has been concentrated by Kim.
But China is touting its economic progress to a system that lets in the market while keeping control consolidated in the Communist Party.
In 2002, U.S. President George Bush labeled North Korea as part of the "axis of evil."