The National Intelligence Service told a closed-door parliamentary audit session that it is closely watching the possibility of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un making a visit to China within this year, according to lawmakers on the intelligence panel.
"The NIS forecast North Korea and the US to hold their working-level talks no later than early December," Rep. Lee Eun-jae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party told a press briefing.
"As the two sides identified each other's stance in their Stockholm talks in October, the time appears to be coming for them to launch full-fledged consultations," she added.
Denuclearization talks between North Korea and the US have stalled since their first talks in seven months in Stockholm in early October broke down. It was the first meeting since their leaders' summit fell through in Vietnam in February.
North Korea accused the US of failing to come up with a new proposal during the October meeting. It earlier proposed an end-of-year deadline for a new proposal on North Korea agreeing to denuclearize in exchange for economic and political concessions.
The spy agency told lawmakers that the North and China are apparently consulting Kim's possible trip to Beijing as the two countries marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.
Touching on the North's missile capability, the NIS said North Korea launched its intercontinental ballistic missiles from mobile launchers.
Pyongyang fired three ICBMs in 2017 before it announced the completion of its nuclear force in November of that year.
Chung Eui-yong, chief of Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office, came under fire from conservative critics for saying it is "technically difficult" for North Korea to fire ICBMs from mobile launchers, during the latest parliamentary audit session.
The agency also added Kim Pyong-il, the North's top envoy to the Czech Republic, has been replaced and returned home.
Kim Pyong-il is a younger half-brother of late former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. (Yonhap)