Police held two men impersonating Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump for questioning after they appeared in Hanoi, where the North Korean and American leaders plan to meet next week for a second summit.
Kim lookalike Howard X and Trump impersonator Russell White staged a “meeting” in downtown Hanoi Friday ahead of a second summit between the real Trump and Kim on February 27-28 in the Vietnamese capital.
About 10 police officers descended on a local TV station where they were giving an interview and told them they would be deported if they continued to make media appearances.
“They basically said stop doing the impersonation or we will kick you out of the country,” Howard X told AFP after he was released from questioning and had returned to his hotel, where he believed plainclothes police were watching him.
The police told the pair they could only travel around the city with an approved itinerary and travel guide.
Howard X, a Hong Kong resident, insisted he was in Vietnam legally and would only leave if he was forced to do so.
The pair appeared with black-clad security guards at Hanoi’s Metropole hotel and Opera House earlier in the day, where they were swarmed by journalists.
Speaking in character, Trump impersonator White said they came with the intention of scaling down North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“We’re working toward peace. Through negotiations, with dialogue, we want to help North Korea of course,” he said, wearing heavy bronzer and sporting freshly gelled hair.
Full-time Kim impersonator Howard X quipped that his colleague might have to ignore the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear ambitions in order to achieve rapprochement.
“Hopefully he can overlook all my nuclear missiles and lift the sanctions,” said Howard X, who also visited Singapore ahead of the leaders’ summit last year.
Before the police arrived, the men said they planned to visit a massage parlor, play a round of golf and maybe sample some of Hanoi’s famous cuisine.
But they may not be permitted to do so by the one-party communist state’s authorities, who aim to pull off next week’s high-profile summit without attracting too much negative attention.
Vietnam’s hardline government does not tolerate spontaneous public gatherings of any kind, and state security people were closely monitoring the pair during their afternoon shenanigans.
Howard X also ran into security problems last June ahead of the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore, when he was held at the airport but was eventually allowed into the city-state on the condition that he steer clear of the summit venue.
The pair say they are looking for a few more impersonators to complete their band of “tyrants,” calling for any lookalikes of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping or Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to contact them to arrange an audition.
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse