A Chinese Australian musician is the first person in the world to make a full-time living impersonating the young N. Korean leader Kim Jong-un in an oblique testament to Kim’s status as a geopolitical icon.
The impersonator is a 35-year-old Hong Kong-born Chinese Australian who goes only by the first name Howard for fear of possible retaliation by N. Korean agents. While he was an unknown musician Howard became a figure of fun among friends and family after Kim became N. Korea’s leader following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December of 2011.
If he could inspire so much amusement and amazement from practically everyone he met, Howard decided, he might as well capitalize on the resemblance. He donned a Mao suit, parted his sidewall haircut down the middle and took to wearing on what he calls “an unhappy expression” to enhance the resemblance.
To promote himself as a professional impersonator Howard began posting pictures of himself as Kim on his Facebook page last April. Before long he had achieved enough fame to secure invitations to perform at concert and appear in commercials. An Israeli burger chain used Howard for the lead role in a commercial in which Kim threatens to nuke the US.
Recently Howard managed to garner attention from the global media by strolling around crowded Hong Kong streets in his Kim getup. In addition to posing with passers-by impressed by the likeness, Howard entered the consulates of the US and South Korea to seek asylum. The officials were unamused. Howard then went into the N. Korean consulate and claims to have fooled the staff into thinking he was their number one comrade.
Howard’s ability to make a living as the fulltime impersonator of the leader of a reclusive and impoverished regime is a good indication of the amount of global press Kim Jong-un has managed to receive in the two years since stepping into his father’s shoes. Unfortunately, so far that publicity has been mostly of the negative variety, making Howard’s success more of a mockery of, rather than a tribute to, Kim’s own career.