The second summit between the U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea chairman Kim Jong-un brought to the city of Hanoi heavy traffic, security cordons, and bustle. However, the residents of the capital of Vietnam welcomed the distinguished guests with great diplomacy and, in many cases, with joy and very peculiar demonstrations of admiration.
A barbershop offering free haircuts that re-create Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un characteristic hairdos, artists drawing paintings of both leaders and shops selling T-shirts with Kim’s and Trump’s faces on.
The summit brought many things to the city but also craze for Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
“When I heard Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un would meet in Hanoi, I knew I had to do something to welcome them, to celebrate the summit. Vietnamese celebrate peace,” said Le Tuan Duong, the owner of Tuan Duong Beauty Academy in Hanoi. The barber offered free haircuts that re-create Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un characteristic hairdos.
However, in the ranking of popularity, Trump won by a landslide in this barbershop. Students from the Hanoi University of Science and Technology visited the hair salon, and 20 out of 21 classmates chose Trump’s style haircut. Only Thinh decided to go for Kim’s hairstyle. “I chose Kim Jong-un’s haircut because it’s spectacular. I decided to have it without considering if it’s suitable for me because I agreed with my friend that he would be Trump and I would be Kim. He is the one who decided and I accepted”, he said.
His friend Duc is a big fan of Trump and without any doubt went for his hairdo. “I like Donald Trump because he is rich, that’s why I want his haircut and because it looks better on me than Kim’s. Trump is very powerful and rich. I have a girlfriend but didn’t tell her about my idea, I think she will just accept it and not say anything”, he said.
Those who choose Trump’s style share similar admiration for the U.S. leader: power, money, and self-assurance.
Binh Tran Lam, a 37 years-old artist, focuses his reverence for Donald Trump in other aspects. He finds inspiration in his physical appearance, like his eyes and gestures. The artist draws Trump and Kim paintings in his cafe-studio in Hanoi.
“We managed to exhibit some of the paintings a year ago in Washington, in front of the White House. Those are not for sale because they are paintings that I draw from the bottom of my heart and not for money. I feel a deep affection for Trump, I’m inspired by his directness and the way he expresses his opinions. He doesn’t care what other people think,” said the artist.
He started working on Kim’s paintings when he learned about the summit, but his admiration for the North Korean leader came before. “Kim is smart, tough and brave for agreeing to meet with Trump. He’s a living masterpiece,” he added.
But there’s one place in Hanoi where the arrival of Kim Jong-un made people especially happy: the Vietnam-North Korea Friendship kindergarten.
The kindergarten, a gift from Pyongyang, was built in 1978, three years after the end of the Vietnam War. It is now one of the most prestigious kindergartens in the city of Hanoi, with 450 pupils and 17 classrooms, including one named after Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founding father and grandfather of Kim Jong-un.
Pupils at the kindergarten learn about North Korea, its culture and traditions, as well some basic words in Korean; and teachers participate in exchange programs with schools in Pyongyang.
Since they learned about the summit, children and teachers have been practicing different performances and decorated their classrooms, hoping to see and please with their shows the North Korean leader when he arrives in Hanoi.
“We’re always ready to welcome Kim Jong-un in Vietnam. We really want Kim Jong-un to visit the school. The children learn how to say hello, goodbye and welcome. We teach the kids about North Korean culture,” said Thao, a teacher at the kindergarten.
But there are others who weren’t such a big fan of the North Korean leader. Truong Thanh Duc, the owner of a T-shirt business in Hanoi where he sells T-shirts with Donald Trump’s and Kim Jong-Un’s faces on, hasn’t ever been very enthusiastic with Kim’s policies.
However, Duc thinks that Kim Jong-un is changing his attitude and becoming more benevolent, and that’s why he decided to include him in his brand-new T-shirts collection. “I admire Donald Trump, he’s a great man. But Kim also has to be recognized, both are contributing to bringing peace to the region,” said Duc.
Duc, who opened his business around 20 years ago, wants, above all else, peace. “I want to celebrate with these T-shirts the peace that this meeting will bring. We don’t want a nuclear war,” he finished.