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Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un lookalike gives Singapore wax museum visitors fright of their lives posing as statue of North Korean leader

He’s been running amok around Singapore since the Trump-Kim summit this week, and now the Hong Kong-based impersonator has turned his attention to scaring visitors at Madame Tussauds

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 June, 2018, 7:00pm

While the real Kim Jong-un has been engaging in historic discussions with Donald Trump in Singapore, his most famous lookalike has been making mischief elsewhere in the city.

An Australian Kim impersonator, known only as Howard X, teamed up with waxworks museum Madame Tussauds to give visitors the fright of their lives.

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With a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and his side-shaved hairstyle slicked back into the North Korean leader’s signature look, Howard is a dead ringer for the reclusive dictator.

The North Korean leader actually hasn’t yet been bestowed with a wax likeness by the global chain of museums. Nevertheless, standing very still in the Singapore branch this week, Howard attracted visitors to pose for photos with what they thought was a statue of Kim – until he moved.

Entertaining footage shows Tussauds’ guests practically jumping out of their skin as Howard breaks his statuesque pose to give them a warm greeting in his Aussie accent. He also poses with wax sculptures of other important figures, including Queen Elizabeth, Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

“People got freaked out at first, but then they’d want a photo. One lady almost knocked over Nelson Mandela,” he chuckles to the Post over the phone. “It was a lot of effort standing still; when I got itchy, I couldn’t do anything.”

Since arriving in Singapore in early June, the impersonator has been inundated with promotional work for various brands and restaurants. “The press has been ridiculous,” he says. “It’s because they can’t get close to the real guy, so they go to the next best thing.”

And the enterprising businessman isn’t one to miss an opportunity to capitalise on the attention surrounding his appearances in the city. As well as a lawyer offering him US$1,000 to visit his office and surprise his staff, Howard has also found a way to get as many freebies as possible during his stay.

“There was one time I’d just finished an interview in a five-star hotel, all the staff recognised me and asked for photos. I said, ‘If you want something from me, I want something from you’,” he recalls. “They had this really good buffet, so I told them, ‘Let me eat at your buffet and drink as much as I want.’ And they said, ‘Sure!’ They took some photos and I had a blast in the restaurant. Taxi drivers recognise me all the time, too, and ask for photos. So I ask them for a free ride!”

Howard is based in Hong Kong but regularly travels all over the world for promotional events – particularly in places that have a link with North Korea. Earlier this year, he appeared at this year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games alongside a Donald Trump impersonator. He caused a stir in the arena, but was reportedly led away from the venue by police.

As Howard’s star rises, it’s becoming difficult for the authorities to stay away. Upon his arrival in Singapore earlier this month, he was detained for two hours at the airport by officials who grilled him on his political views, asked whether he had participated in the Occupy Central demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2014, and whether he was planning to riot in Singapore during the summit. He was also warned to keep away from hotels where the summit is being held and leaders are staying.

“I told them freedom of speech is something that needs to be defended, but I’ve never rioted and I don’t plan to riot. I’m not stupid,” he says.

However, he says he wants his job to be more than just a photo opportunity for people. “I’ve always been interested in politics and being politically active. I use my impersonation to further causes I care about – such as Occupy Central and protesting against the Chinese government sending refugees back to North Korea.”

He adds: “It’s such a peculiar occupation. But it’s so funny at the same time.”