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Kim Jong-un and Trump lookalikes Howard X and Russell White say farewell in Hanoi on Monday. Photograph: Jorge Silva/Reuters

Vietnam deports Kim Jong-un lookalike before summit, but not Trump imitator

Australian impersonator says North Korean leader has ‘no sense of humour’ as he leaves Hanoi

WT24 Desk

A Kim Jong-un impersonator has been taken from his hotel ahead of his planned deportation from Vietnam before the real North Korean leader meets US president Donald Trump in Hanoi later this week, AFP reports.

Howard X arrived in town with Trump impersonator Russell White last week, staging a fake summit on the steps of Hanoi’s opera house amid a swarm of press and hired security guards.

The real Trump and Kim will meet for a summit in Hanoi on 27-28 February to build on their first meeting in June in Singapore which failed to produce any concrete moves to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.

The Kim lookalike was questioned by Hanoi police on Friday and informed he would be put on a plane back to his home in Hong Kong.

The impersonator was told by Vietnamese immigration officials his visa was “invalid”, but said he received no further explanation.

“The real reason is I was born with a face looking like Kim Jong-un, that’s the real crime,” he told reporters on Monday as three plainclothed officials took him from his hotel to Hanoi airport.

White will be permitted to stay in the city but has been asked to stop appearing in costume in public.

The Trump doppelganger has been stopped on his Hanoi walkabouts by locals and tourists eager to snap a selfie with “The Donald”.

Howard X said he thought he was being deported because the real Kim “has no sense of humour”.

His plane ticket back to Hong Kong would also be cheaper for Vietnamese authorities than a flight for White back to his native Canada, he added.

“Satire is a powerful weapon against any dictatorship. They are scared of a couple of guys that look like the real thing,” said Howard X, wearing a signature Mao-style black suit and thick black glasses.

Vietnam is hastily preparing for this week’s summit, deploying security personnel across the city. The capital has billed itself the “City of Peace” ahead of the talks and is controlling press events carefully as the world watches the one-party state.

White said he would remain in Hanoi for the week, though his earlier plans of playing a round of golf and visiting a massage parlour with the lookalike Kim are no longer on the schedule.Advertisement

“We’re here to make politics great again,” he said, before exchanging goodbye kisses with Howard X.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said that it was “truly absurd and despicable” that Vietnam was harassing and threatening Howard X.

“The rights abusing treatment he faces shows just how repressive Vietnam is,” he tweeted.

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