In Hanoi, Vietnam Friday, cars stopped and tourists took a second look at what appeared to be North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and American President Donald Trump.
In front of the historic Metropole Hotel, “Kim” hugged "Trump”, and said, “Last time we did it in Singapore, which is kind of his territory. Now we are in my territory with my comrades.”
Wait a minute! Isn't their meeting to happen next week?
That's right. The man who looked like Kim is Howard X, an Australian man who has been impersonating the North Korean leader for some time. He has the same style of haircut and eyeglasses.
X was at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea. Singapore officials told him to stay away from Sentosa Island when the real Kim met with Trump last June.
Howard X was joined in Hanoi by Russell White, a Trump impersonator. Reporters with cameras surrounded the two men at the hotel briefly before employees asked them to leave.
Vietnam is to welcome the real Trump and the real Kim next week. The flags of Vietnam, the United States and North Korea line the streets in preparation for the meeting.
At a hair cutting shop on De La Thanh Street in Hanoi, people wanted to get styles similar to that of Kim or Trump.
Le Tuan Duong, its owner, said he had 200 customers in just two days. Duong said, “Kim’s style is a lot more popular among [his] customers.” He added Kim’s hair shows youth, while Trump’s suggests power.
The free haircut is available until February 28, when the summit ends.
In a coffee shop in the old city, Tran Lam Binh was painting colorful images of the two leaders. Binh said he started almost two weeks ago and hoped to finish 60 paintings in time for next week’s meeting.
Binh told the Vietnamese website VN Express, "I hope to invite the two leaders here and gift them my paintings.”
In a small shop nearby, Truong Thanh Duc was busy printing images of Kim and Trump on T-shirts. Duc planned to make about 500 shirts a day to sell for $5 each.
For those who do not want haircuts or images of the leaders on clothing, there are special drinks to mark the event.
Hanoi’s Standing Bar offers “Kim Jong Ale.” The alcoholic drink is said to be inspired by the water of Mount Paektu, the birthplace of Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il.
The nearby Unicorn Pub is serving a popular Korean drink of soju called “Rock It, Man.” The drink is mixed with pineapple and vanilla and named after the term Trump once used to call the North Korean leader, "Little Rocket Man."
The Tannin Wine Bar has “Peace Negroniations.” The mixed drink is made with soju, pink-grapefruit, vermouth and a drop of bitters. The bar’s operator told Reuters the bitters reminded him of Trump.
After their meeting in Singapore last June, Trump said the nuclear threat was over. But the president has since lowered expectations of a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
Just this week, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, “We’re going to have our meeting . . . As long as there’s no testing, I’m in no rush. If there’s testing, that’s another deal.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
Hai Do adapted this for VOA Learning English with information from Reuters, the Associated Press and other sources. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
comrade - n. used as a title for a member of the communist party
impersonate - v. to pretend to be another person
inspire - v. to give someone an idea about what to do or create
rush - n. a situation to do something quickly or hurrying