A group of North Korean cheerleaders were briefly wowed by the apparent, sudden arrival of their leader, Kim Jong Un, at a Winter Olympics ice hockey game
Some cheerleaders giggled then immediately averted their gaze as the impersonato smiled, waved and waved a flag at crowds who came to watch a unified Korean team play Japan at the Pyeongchang Games.
The lookalike, who told guards his name was Howard, showed off his best moves i before a group of North Korean men, all dressed in black, pushed him back to his seat.
Reporter Vincent Bevins said the impersonator was later surrounded by South Korean police officers.
“At the united Korea vs Japan womens’ hockey game, an apparent Kim Jong-un impersonator starts dancing in front of North Korean cheerleaders,” Mr Bevin wrote on Twitter.
“Apparent employees of the DPRK push him aside.
“Police have now surrounded and asked the apparent impersonator to come with him, he says his name’s Howard, was just cheering and looks like this, and didn’t commit any crime.
“Refuses to go with them. South Korea police apparently unsure what to do.”
Mr Bevins said Howard spoke in English and described his accent as ‘British’ , but the impressionist is believed to be an Australian living in Hong Kong.
He said: “[Police] now told him he broke a rule against making political statements. He responds: ‘I just showed up with my flag and my face… If you don’t like my face there’s nothing you can do about it, I was born this way.’
“They’ve now taken him into a room in the hallway and closed the door.
“I don’t speak Korean either, but my sense was police didn’t know what to do with him.”
It is not the first time Howard has caused a scene at the games.
Last week he was photographed shaking hands with a Donald Trump impersonator.
The two men 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.”
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 stunned passers-by.
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 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.
Why is North Korea at the Olympics?
North Korea is taking part in the 2018 Games after late talks between Pyongyang, Seoul and the International Olympic Committee following a rare olive branch from Kim Jong-un.
His regime had missed a deadline to enter its athletes into competitions.
But the first talks in two years between the Koreas cleared the way for Pyongyang to send 22 athletes and a 280-member delegation.
There are hopes that this could help to de-escalate tensions on the peninsula and lead to further discussions.
But there is a degree of cynicism over the pariah state’s intentions. One of them, say experts, is driving a wedge between South Korea and its ally the US.
Jung Pak, a senior fellow and the SK-Korea Foundation chair in Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution’s Center for East Asia Policy Studies, said: “This is a tried and tested tactic that Pyongyang has used before to try and drive South Korea away from the US.”
Andray Abrahamian, visiting fellow at the Jeju Peace Research Institute, said North Korea is exploring whether there are any gaps in the relationship that they can exploit.
Owen Miller, a lecturer in Korean studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), added: “It’s useful for them in the confrontation with the US to make it much more difficult for the US to launch an attack or put further pressure on North Korea.”
The Olympics offer Pyongyang an opportunity to ramp up its propaganda machine.
For South Korea, Pyongyang’s participation is an “insurance policy” against any action taking place, said Ms Pak.
She added: “It’s to decrease the likelihood of a North Korea provocative reaction [to the games]. By having North Korea invested they won’t try to undercut that.”
The president’s office said Pence greeted those at the head table and left because he had a previously scheduled dinner with US athletes.
He did not shake hands with North Korea’s chief delegate, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did during a conversation.
US officials said there was no interaction between Pence and Kim Yong Nam.
They have also said Pence has no plans to meet with North Korean delegates during his tour of Asia.
Before the opening ceremony dozens of anti-North Korean protesters, waving South Korean and US flags, scuffled with police near the Olympic stadium.
The demonstrators set off flares and police sprayed fire extinguishers at the crowd.
Some of the protesters were seen hitting police with flags, as officers tried to pull protesters out of the crowd.
The demonstrators oppose South Korea re-engaging Pyongyang and resuming talks for the first time in two years.
They displayed a banner urging Trump to attack Pyongyang. It read: “Mr President. North Korea bombing, please.”