Business has been smoking for a barbecued-meat vendor in Shenyang city, Liaoning province since he started cultivating his greatest business asset – an uncanny resemblance to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The vendor, who prefers to keep his identity secret, cut his hair in the distinct Kim fashion, donned a blue overcoat and is never far from a lit cigarette – just like the real thing, ifeng.com, the web portal of Phoenix Television, reported today.
While he spoke to the reporter at his street stall outside the gate to a college, chuckling passers-by stopped to have their photos taken with him.
When asked if he was of Korean descent, or was merely mimicking the young dictator, he replied that such details had to “remain secret”.
“Safety comes first. I can’t say much,” he said slyly. “But if you buy a few more sticks of barbecue, perhaps I might tell you.”
Kim Jong-un, the portly heir to Kim Jong-il, who ascended to power in December 2011, is a favourite butt of jokes among China’s online community.
Last November, another Kim impersonator – an 34-year-old Australian-Chinese musician named Howard, who also thought it wise not to reveal his last name – caused a stir in Hong Kong when he paraded through Tsim Sha Tsui in full Kim regalia.
Howard, who was often teased about his resemblance to Kim before he realised it was a potentially valuable gift, even set up a Facebook page last April Fool's Day.
Two weeks after Howard’s page appeared on Facebook, Israeli fast-food chain Burger Ranch flew him to Tel Aviv for a television commercial shoot, in response to a McDonald’s ad that had used a Barack Obama lookalike. Not knowing a word of Korean, he took a crash course to utter his lines. The ensuing 10-second ad was an instant hit.
Howard is now riding a wave of media attention as the world’s foremost Kim Jong-un impersonator, with offers for appearances coming from – among others – a litreary festival in Sweden, a website in Romania and a political satire television show in Armenia.