Donald Trump and and Kim Jong-un have met for the first time at the Winter Olympics in South Korea – but it’s not all that it may seem.
Two men impersonating the US president and North Korean dictator took spectators by surprise – managing to fool some – at Friday’s opening ceremony in Pyeongchang.
The Trump impersonator – wearing a suit, the president’s trademark long red tie and a red “USA” hat – and the Kim doppelganger – wearing glasses and a long black coat – put their arms around each other and waved at the crowd as athletes paraded into the Olympic stadium.
But their appearance was short-lived, as both were kicked out of the stadium after posing for selfies and causing a stir.
Chelsea Janes, a reporter with the Washington Post, wrote on Twitter: “Trump impersonator met Kim Jong Un impersonator, and they left peacefully together. The Olympic Spirit at its best.”
Her colleague Josh Rogin tweeted: “Trump and Kim Jong Un (impersonators) meet at the Olympics! Hilarious.”
NPR special correspondent Melissa Block added: “Drama! Big excitement as Trump and Kim Jong Un impersonators were just escorted out of the stadium right behind me.”
Before the ceremony started, the Trump and Kim lookalikes were stood outside the stadium, where they were said to have received a warm welcome by passers-by who were stunned at first.
Kim’s lookalike, identified as Howard, told AFP: “When we arrived at the station we were treated like rock stars.
“Some people were fooled but most people can see the lighter side.”
Howard and Trump impersonator Dennis Alan said their appearance was meant to carry a serious message.
Howard, an Australian based in Hong Kong, said: “This is a peace envoy. We’re going to promote peace and show people this is what peace can look like.”
He expressed hope that “the real Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un could also get on and not start World War Three”.
He said before entering the stadium that the pair hoped to meet Kim Jong-un’s sister and US Vice President Mike Pence once inside, adding: “My only worry is that somebody with no sense of humour won’t let us in.”
After causing a stir near the press box inside the stadium, Mr Alan told reporters: “It happens quite frequently that people are fooled by the way I look.
“But I do not use my likeness to make any kind of political statement.”
The impersonators appeared at the kick-off of an Olympics that is hoped to bring the Koreas and the US, one of Seoul’s most important allies, closer to discussions about denuclearisation.
Kim Yo Jong, the North Korean leader’s sister, and Pence attended the opening ceremony and were sat just a few feet apart in separate rows.
The games are being held just 50 miles from the fortified demilitarised zone which divides North and South Korea.
Kim’s sister is the first member of the ruling family to cross the border to the South, and was on hand as North and South Korean athletes marched together behind a unified flag.
She shook hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the stands at the opening ceremony in a historic first.
The pair are due to meet for lunch at the president’s resident on Saturday.
Pence isn’t going to meet with any members of North Korea’s delegation, US officials have said.
He represented the US at the opening ceremony and was said to have briefly encountered North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong Nam, at a welcoming reception before leaving and skipping a dinner with world leaders.
The two apparently tried to avoid directly facing each other, Yonhap reported.
The report said Pence left the venue in Yongpyeong after a five-minute stay and was due to sit at the head table with the North Korean official and South Korea’s president.