Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump impersonators, Howard X, left, and Dennis Alan, right, pose for photographs at the Merlion Park, a popular tourist destination in Singapore (Source: PTI)

Kim Jong Un Impersonator Snared in Singapore Security Net

(Bloomberg) -- If Singapore’s reputation for tight security was one reason the real Kim Jong Un agreed to hold his summit with Donald Trump in the city-state, the fake Kim Jong Un now knows why.

A Hong Kong-based entertainer who impersonates the North Korean leader said he was detained at Changi Airport after returning to Singapore ahead of the summit on Tuesday. The impersonator, who would give only his stage name Howard X, said he was held by immigration authorities for two hours before being released and told to steer clear of summit venues.

“They asked me about what my political views were and if I had been involved with protests or riots in other countries,” Howard X told Bloomberg News. “I feel they were trying to intimidate me, but if I got deported it would have been big news.”

Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in a statement late Friday that Lee Howard Ho Wun arrived at Changi Airport around 3:30 a.m. on June 8 and was interviewed about 45 minutes later. The interview ended at 5:00 a.m. and he was allowed into Singapore 15 minutes later. As part of the clearance process, travelers can go through additional screening, including interviews, the ICA said.

The Southeast Asian financial hub has been bracing for the arrival of Trump and Kim -- and thousands of reporters -- next week, and has announced flight restrictions and police checkpoints around key meeting spots. Entrepreneurs have been scrambling to cash in on the international media spectacle, hawking Trump-Kim fusion burgers and summit-themed cocktails.

Howard X, who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Melbourne, attracted widespread media attention during an earlier visit to Singapore and is scheduled to make several appearances this weekend with Trump impersonator Dennis Alan. He said the duo has been offered sponsorships by local companies to attend publicity events.

“The original goal was to come and enjoy the historic moment and get into character,” he said. “I hope the first priority of the real meeting is to have Kim stop shooting off missiles and destabilizing the region.”

Howard X has split his time between his job as a music producer and his impersonation act since 2012. At the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea earlier this year, police dragged him out of an arena after he danced in front of North Korea’s cheering squad.

Meanwhile, two journalists for South Korea’s Korean Broadcasting System were arrested Thursday on allegations of trespassing on the residence of North Korea’s ambassador to Singapore, the Singapore Police Force said in a Facebook post. KBS did not respond to a request for comment.

South Korea’s presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters to “approach the situation with caution,” according to local media Hankyoreh.

“Singapore is an area out of our administrative power, and it is a place where strict governmental power is operated,” Kim said, adding that there were at least four additional cases of reporters being detained by local police for filming in prohibited locations.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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