Cashing in on Trump-Kim mania


Unofficial memorabilia: A man showing lapel pins made by Flabslab, an independent multi-disciplinary platform in Singapore. — Bloomberg

SINGAPORE: From summit-­themed burgers and online scalpers peddling “World Peace” medallions and “Peace Out from Lion City” T-shirts, Singaporeans are cashing in on a historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

The buzz around the Trump-Kim summit on Tuesday has stirred Singaporeans’ entrepreneurial spi­rit, and raised hopes of a tourism dividend long after the summit dust settles.

One person is trying to sell his weekend reservations at the Shan­gri-­La Hotel, mentioned as the possible lodging of one of the leaders – at three times the price.

“It was for a personal ‘staycation’, but I reckon that because of the summit, people might actually offer to pay a higher price,” Joel Lin, who is asking for S$1,600 (RM4,773) for each of two rooms he has booked, said by telephone.

The Singapore Mint, which last week unveiled a commemorative medallion for the summit, later raised the mintage for the gold and silver medallions after an overwhelming response.

At more than S$1,000 (RM2,983) a piece for the gold version, and more than S$100 (RM298) for the silver one, the issue could yield upwards of S$5mil (RM14.9mil) if they are all sold.

Scalpers are preparing to sell the medallions they get in an online sale.

Special coins: The design of a gold-plated commemorative medallion depicting a handshake with images of the US and North Korean national flags on one side and an inscription ‘World Peace’ with images of the US and North Korean national flowers – roses and magnolias – on the other side. — AFP
Special coins: The design of a gold-plated commemorative medallion depicting a handshake with images of the US and North Korean national flags on one side and an inscription ‘World Peace’ with images of the US and North Korean national flowers – roses and magnolias – on the other side. — AFP

An Australian Kim impersonator, who goes by the name Howard X, has also been cashing in but said he got an unpleasant surprise on Friday when he was detained for questioning on arrival back in the country for a second time in two weeks.

He said he was allowed on his way after being told to stay away from summit venues.

A Singapore burger chain, Wolf Burgers, urged the two leaders to #settlethebeef and invited them to try its “Burger for World Peace”, with American sharp cheddar cheese and Korea’s marinated Bulgogi shabu brisket.

Mexican restaurant Lucha Loco is selling “Rocket Man” and “El Trumpo” tacos and guests stand a chance to smash Trump-Kim pinatas.

Trump called Kim “little rocket man” last year, when the two were exchanging threats of nuclear war and the prospect of a summit was nothing but a distant dream for even the most optimistic marketing man.

A hit with supporters: Trump and Kim pinatas on display at Lucha Loco restaurant in Singapore. — Reuters
A hit with supporters: Trump and Kim pinatas on display at Lucha Loco restaurant in Singapore. — Reuters

More than 3,000 journalists are due in town, along with delegations and security entourages.

Those who enjoy a tipple might seek out a bar offering cocktails featuring the Korean spirit soju.

One bar has named its special summit drink – which mixes beer, tequila, diet Coke and soju – the Bromance.

Singapore, which welcomed a record 17.4 million international visitors last year, is likely to see a bump, albeit small, in retail spending because of the summit.

Every tourist to Singapore spends an average three-and-a-half days and contributes about S$1,500 (RM4,475) to overall tourism re­ceipts, said brokerage CGS-CIMB.

Assuming a seven-day stay and about 4,000 people coming for the event, a CGS-CIMB analyst estima­ted they could spend about S$12mil (RM35.8mil).

Delicious twist: A bowl of Trump-Kim nasi lemak, made from dry-aged US beef and kimchi, at Harmony Nasi Lemak restaurant. — Reuters
Delicious twist: A bowl of Trump-Kim nasi lemak, made from dry-aged US beef and kimchi, at Harmony Nasi Lemak restaurant. — Reuters

That’s a drop in the bucket in the short-term – the Singapore Tourism Board has forecast tourism receipts of between S$27.1bil (RM80.8bil) and S$27.6bil (RM82.3bil) for this year.

But a glitch-free summit will in­crease the chances of more big-­ticket events.

“As with all high-profile visits, it places Singapore on the map for international audiences and showcases Singapore as an ideal destination, especially for business and meetings,” said Oliver Chong, exe­cu­tive director of communications and marketing capability at the tourism board. — Reuters

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