Vietnam deports Kim Jong-un impersonator ahead of summit

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Howard X says officials have told him that his visa is "invalid", but has received no explanation as to why

A Kim Jong-un impersonator has been deported from Vietnam ahead of the real North Korean leader's meeting with US President Trump in Hanoi this week.

Hong Kong resident Howard X staged a fake summit with Trump impersonator Russell White last week.

The two were later held for questioning by Vietnamese police and told to cease all their political jesting.

Howard X says officials have since told him his visa is "invalid", but says he has received no further explanation.

"Satire is a powerful weapon against any dictatorship. They are scared of a couple of guys that look like the real thing," Howard X, who was wearing a black suit and thick black glasses in the style of Kim Jong-un, told reporters.

He and Mr White took part in a faux summit in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, telling reporters they intended to scale down North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"We're working toward peace. Through negotiations, with dialogue, we want to help North Korea of course," Canada-born Mr White told reporters at the time, dressed as Donald Trump.

"Hopefully he can overlook all my nuclear missiles and lift the sanctions," answered Howard X, a full-time impressionist who visited Singapore ahead of the first US-North Korea summit last year.

The men were later detained by police whilst giving an interview to a local TV station.

Vietnamese police told the pair to stop their impersonations and said they could only travel around the city with an approved itinerary and escort, AFP news agency reports.

"The real reason is I was born with a face looking like Kim Jong-un, that's the real crime," said Howard X.

Media caption,
Howard and a Donald Trump impersonator go hand in hand in Singapore

He added he believed he was being deported because the North Korean leader had "no sense of humour".

The Kim lookalike took part in similar satirical stunts during the first US-North Korea summit in Singapore last year.

He was also escorted away by security at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea after dancing in front of North Korea's cheerleading squad.

President Trump and Kim Jong-un are due to meet in Hanoi on 27-28 February for talks expected to focus on persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

Their first summit in Singapore last June generated significant coverage and optimism, but delivered very few concrete developments.

Both sides said they were committed to denuclearisation, but gave no details of how this would be carried out or verified.

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