North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump would have stolen the show at these Olympics if they had made a joint appearance at the Opening Ceremony and started hanging out together.
Given that that was never going to happen, the next best thing was the antics of a pair of lookalikes. On Wednesday night, the Kim impersonator doubled down, attending a hockey game involving unified Korea team and dancing in front of the North Korean “army of beauties” cheerleader squad.
So, who are the men who have become a story in themselves in Pyeongchang?
Reporters at the hockey game noted that the Kim doppleganger, whose presence was said to have briefly fooled some of the cheer team from the North, gave his name as Howard.
However, his full fake name is Howard X, a Hong Kong-based musician and entertainer. In 2013, he began working as the “world’s first Kim Jong Un impersonator.”
As for Trump? He is 67-year-old Chicagoan Dennis Alan – also a stage name – who has spent most of his adult life as a musician before capitalizing on his likeness to Trump when the Donald ran for president and won in 2016.
Alan's motivation, he said in a telephone interview, is to put smiles on faces.
“I don’t use my likeness as Donald Trump to make any kind of political statement,” he said from London, where he departed to after the Opening Ceremony. He will return to South Korea next week.
“I realize it is a fine line because I am a lookalike of a political figure,” he continued. “My motivation is to provide entertainment and to make people laugh.”
Howard, meanwhile, who was ushered angrily away from the cheering North Korean women at the hockey venue and briefly questioned by police, is not afraid to take a political stand.
“Everyone has a cause, you know,” he told Yahoo Sports. “I have an advantage to advance this cause. I was born with this face.”
According to his colleague Alan, Howard is not afraid to “make political statements” with his character. “He is a very astute media artist,” Alan said. “He knows that the media wants that kind of behavior from him. He pushes their buttons with statements of political relevance, they are not necessarily political views but to make a spectacle.”
Howard told USA TODAY Sports by instant message late Wednesday night that he has to take precautions regarding his travel plans and appearances for his safety. Fear of reprisals from the North Korean regime is the reason why he chooses not to reveal his full name.
That doesn’t mean the show stops, however. Both of them have more ideas for Pyeongchang and more light-hearted mischief on their mind.
“It seems to me that the Olympics are an international political event,” Alan said. “That was more what attracted Howard and I to make appearance there.”
Alan was tracked down by Howard in 2016 after he made an appearance as a “Trump-alike” in Vanity Fair magazine. They have since worked together on a number of projects and the idea for an Olympics-themed series of stunts came after Alan was hired for a Trump-based commercial by a Korean company last year.
Fortunately, the Olympics would provide more fertile opportunities. However, their Opening Ceremony adventure almost unraveled when the pair had difficulty securing train tickets from Seoul to Pyeongchang on the first night. Demand for the event was so high that all tickets had sold out through official channels, but Howard was able to secure tickets online. After the event it took them an hour just to leave the stadium, as so many fans wanted to pose for selfies or offer handshakes.
It doesn’t take Howard and Alan long to get ready for their roles as they naturally look similar to the political chiefs. There have been times in Howard’s home city of Hong Kong that they have been stopped and asked for photos even when wearing their regular attire as opposed to the political-themed costumes.
“Howard is certainly my media consultant and he tells me our appearance has generated articles in literally every media outlet in the world,” Alan said. “It was our objective to increase visibility and provide a couple of laughs for people and we seem to have achieved that.”