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This Fake Kim Jong Un Got An Icy Reception From North Korean Cheerleaders

Howard says he just wanted to meet the cheerleaders.

He and the beaming, beautiful North Korean cheering section were both at the women's ice hockey game, watching the unified Korean team take on Japan at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. So, he figured, why not just bop over to where they were sitting in the stands, bringing his own fun-sized unification flag — and his hi-top haircut, his black glasses, and his tasteful bit of girth about the midsection.

So what if he happened to look like Kim Jong Un?

Poor Howard — or, at least, poor man who has represented himself simply as "Howard" to multiple media outlets. Within minutes the man had been kicked out of his second Olympic event in less than a week. As it turns out, it is frowned upon in Pyeongchang to look and dress like North Korea's dictator.

Literally, a number of the cheerleaders frowned upon it. Others looked vaguely peeved. A couple might have giggled behind their hands. One particularly emotive member of the delegation made quite clear she was not on board.

But they didn't have to look at him long. Several men in fur-lined coats quickly jostled him away from the cheerleaders and forced him to sit down elsewhere.

"They shouted something in Korean, I wasn't sure what it was," Howard, who says he's from Australia and lives in Hong Kong, told Yahoo Sports, "and then the police got involved and they dragged me away – they said for my own safety."

Happily, Vincent Bevins of The Washington Post was sitting just a few rows away at the time and caught the jostling in progress.

He was escorted from the stands by a cluster of South Korean policemen, who, once they'd gotten him there, appeared to have no idea what to do with him. They surrounded him, detained him briefly, pulled in a translator and mostly just killed time until they could release Howard at a safe distance from the cheerleaders.

"This is crazy," he said. "What do we have, 10 policemen? What do you think I'm going to do? I don't bring violence. I just want to see the game, so what's the problem?"

The faux Kim leaves the stands escorted by South Korean police and venue staff, now looking rather more nonplussed than his star turn in front of the cheerleaders.
Yelim Lee / AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
The faux Kim leaves the stands escorted by South Korean police and venue staff, now looking rather more nonplussed than his star turn in front of the cheerleaders.

As we noted, it's not his first time getting bumped from a big event. He and a President Trump impersonator both got booted from the Opening Ceremony by security staff.

But Howard says he comes in peace — and on behalf of the cause of peace. As for his methods, well, he says it's not his fault he looks like Kim.

"My face is too political," Howard told Reuters. "I was born with this face, I've got to live with it."

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Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.
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