Kim Yong Chol is one of the vice chairmen of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the communist organization through which the ruling family controls North Korea, but is not technically the No. 2 behind Kim Jong Un.

He has, however, emerged as one of the leader’s closest aides and has been at all the talks this year that have led to the current rapprochement.

He will be the highest-ranking North Korean to visit the United States since Gen. Jo Myong Rok went to the White House to see President Bill Clinton in 2000, part of a denuclearization effort that went nowhere.