Courtesy campaign on wheels, tight security as Hanoi gears up for Trump-Kim summit
HANOI – In the days and hours leading up to the arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump, the Vietnamese capital has been working overtime to put its best foot forward.
HANOI — In the days and hours leading up to the arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump, the Vietnamese capital has been working overtime to put its best foot forward.
Mr Kim, who crossed the Vietnamese border on a train on Tuesday morning (Feb 26), is still making his way to Hanoi by car, while Mr Trump is expected to land in the capital city on Tuesday night for their summit, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.
About 100 courtesy ambassadors from the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports have been cycling through the streets of central Hanoi, bearing the flags of Vietnam, North Korea and the US, and slogans with messages reminding locals to be on their best behaviour.
Written in Vietnamese, these messages urge locals to behave with “grace and friendliness” and not to use foul language, vandalise public property, spit, litter, or let pets go loose and soil the pavements.
Meanwhile, maintenance and security workers have been putting in extra hours to get Hanoi ready.
Late on Monday night, workers could still be seen sprucing up roads with fresh flowers, putting up Trump-Kim summit banners and repainting buildings.
Metal barricades have been put up at the five-star Melia Hotel, rumoured to be Mr Kim’s accommodation.
Security was tight when TODAY visited the site on Monday. Armed elite Vietnamese police forces patrolled the area and two fire engines were stationed nearby.
Signs were also placed along the road in front of the hotel, alerting drivers that the area was reserved for diplomatic vehicles.
Mr Trump is said to be staying at the luxury JW Marriott Hotel, while the summit itself is reportedly being held at the Government Guest House.
At iconic spots across the city, such as the Government buildings close to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Vietnam-Soviet Friendship Cultural Palace, which is serving as the international media centre for the summit, beds of flowers have been arranged to form the images of a handshake and the North Korean and US flags.
Locals are getting in on the festive atmosphere in their own way.
Early on Tuesday morning, over 100 Vietnamese men sporting hairstyles modelled after the two leaders gathered at Thong Nhat Park.
They were planning to release 109 pigeons at the park, as part of a ceremony to symbolise peace.
But minutes before the event was slated to begin, organiser Le Tuan Duong – a barber who had gained overnight fame for offering free Trump- and Kim-style haircuts over the past week – had to call it off, citing orders from the authorities.
He has so far given Kim-style haircuts to some 600 Vietnamese men and Trump-style cuts to another 100, he told TODAY.
He had wanted to gather 109 of these customers on Tuesday morning to release 109 pigeons, because that was the combined age of Mr Kim, who is 36 according to South Korean media, and Mr Trump, who will turn 73 later this year.
Among those who got a free Trump haircut and dyed their hair golden were a dozen students from the Hanoi University of Science and Technology.
Speaking to TODAY outside Mr Le’s salon at De La Thanh Street on Monday, undergraduate Dieu Minh Hoang, 22, said his parents would probably tell him off when they saw his new look.
Another Trump wannabe, businessman Huynh Ngoc Ha, 53, said he plans to wear a suit and tie to welcome both leaders when they arrive in town.
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