SINGAPORE: Surprised Singaporeans ran in pursuit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday (May 27) before realising the portly man with slick black hair near the Marina Bay Sands hotel was an impersonator.
"It looked like the real Kim Jong-un, but later I realised it's not the real one," said Sagar Admuthe who was visiting from Mumbai, India, after several selfies with the doppleganger against a backdrop of the city's bay.
"When you see him, it's very difficult to make out."
He was also photographed holding a durian and pinching his nose in reaction to the king of fruit's pungent smell.
The Australian-Chinese man posing as the North Korean leader calls himself only Howard X and said he was appearing to wish success for a summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump to negotiate an end to the North's nuclear programme.
Howard X also made an appearance as Kim at the Winter Olympics in Gangneung in South Korea in February, bewildering North Korean cheerleaders who initially thought their leader had walked into a hockey stadium.
"I think the two leaders will sit down and they're going to have a great time, because really they have the same personality. They are going to be best friends right after this meeting," he said.
Trump signalled that preparations for a June 12 summit with Kim were going ahead, despite having called it off last week, and a White House team was scheduled to depart for Singapore this weekend to prepare for the possible summit.
Howard X said Kim's rise as the third leader of North Korea in 2011 has proved lucrative for him, jumpstarting a new career in films, commercials and private functions, most often in his home town of Hong Kong.
"I said that guy looks a lot like me, and I thought, wow, I need to do something with this and make some money," Howard X added.
"This is my normal body," he said, when asked if he had to put on weight to impersonate the North's leader. "But he's fatter, and I can't catch up ... it'll damage my health."
Howard X, who is a musician by training and said he still produces Brazilian music sung in Chinese, said his partner known as Dennis Alan impersonates Trump. Although he could not join him this week, both will return before the summit.
"Hey Donald, I'm already in Singapore, waiting for you to turn up," Howard X said. – Reuters