Pyeongchang: As the Pyeongchang Olympics opened on Friday the sight of two bellicose "world leaders" putting aside the threat of nuclear war warmed the cockles on a freezing cold night.
As excited spectators filed into the Olympic Stadium for the gala ceremony, many did a double-take.
Could it really be US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un?
Normally obsessed with comparing the size of their nuclear buttons, here the pair looked more like atomic kittens.
In fact it was two spitting-image lookalikes — not the actual bickering enemies — who were turning heads, shaking hands and taking selfies.
And as protesters raged against the presence in Pyeongchang of North Korean athletes and dignitaries, including Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, the two fake leaders were given a warm reception by stunned onlookers.
"When we arrived at the station we were treated like rock stars," Kim lookalike Howard, dressed in all black, told AFP. "Some people were fooled but most people can see the lighter side."
Behind the jokes, however, was a serious message.
"This is a peace envoy," insisted the ersatz Kim, flanked by Trump substitute Dennis Alan, wearing a red USA cap.
"We're going to promote peace and show people this is what peace can look like."
The fake Kim — an Australian based in Hong Kong — expressed hope that "the real Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un could also get on and not start World War Three".
Before entering the stadium, where the real US Vice President Mike Pence and Kim's sister were in attendance, he added: "Hopefully we can meet Mike Pence and the sister of Kim Jong Un.
"My only worry is that somebody with no sense of humour won't let us in."
Once inside, the two impersonators caused a stir when they passed the press box, causing journalists to leave their seats and chase after them.
The lifelike fake Trump sported the former business mogul's trademark over-long red tie.
"It happens quite frequently that people are fooled by the way I look," he said.
"But I do not use my likeness to make any kind of political statement."
The duo later thanked organisers for their 'tender loving care'. The feuding 'world leaders' sparked excitement when they infiltrated the press area before being tackled by security.
But the Kim impersonator, who goes by the stage name of Howard X, insisted they had not been ejected from the stadium, merely escorted back to their correct seats.
"We tried to sneak into the media section so we could wave to the athletes," he told AFP on Saturday.
"They didn't kick us out, we had tickets. A bunch of journalists were chasing us so security took us outside so we could get to our seats," the fake Kim added.
"They were very professional and just doing their jobs. They even provided us with an entourage, so we looked like the real thing and it caused even more of a commotion."
Local organisers insisted normal protocol had been followed.
"There was no problem with their costumes but they entered the media seats with a regular ticket," they said. "We just guided out those who have entered the media seats by mistake."
Published Date: Feb 10, 2018 13:19 PM | Updated Date: Feb 10, 2018 13:19 PM