Kim rebuffed a Chinese emissary in November carrying a simple message from Chinese President Xi Jinping -- do not launch a ballistic missile. The North Koreans did just that only days later.
After that, China joined the international community in placing greater economic sanctions against the North and, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry making his first trip to China Saturday, questions arose over the state of the Sino-North Korean alliance, The New York Times said Saturday.
No more face-to-face meetings have been scheduled between leaders of the two countries. State-run media in China have openly questioned Kim's leadership, and online comments -- normally heavily scrutinized by the government -- have consistently mocked the leader with monikers like "The Kid" and "Fatty the Third."
Kim, thought to be in his late 20s, is portly, presenting an image of a well-fed leader in a nation where millions don't have enough to eat.
An editorial in the Global Times, closely aligned with the state's agenda, took aim at the North's actions.
"When Pyongyang's acts seriously violate China's interests, we will by no means indulge it," the editorial said.