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SYDNEY (AP) — A man posing as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un disrupted Australia’s election campaign on Friday when he broke into an event Prime Minister Scott Morrison was attending with lawmaker Gladys Liu.
The impersonator, who later identified himself as Howard X, began speaking to the gathered media.
“Thank you very much. Gladys Liu is the communist candidate for Australia,” he said, before being interrupted by an aide to Morrison.
“Excuse me, you’re going to have to leave. It’s the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen in a campaign,” said aide Nick Creevey.
The impersonator replied, “Excuse me, you’re not telling the Supreme Leader what to do. I support Gladys Liu.”
The copycat left the Melbourne site soon after.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Liu said she is focused on delivering results for the Melbourne communities she represents.
“I won’t be distracted by my opponents and their dirty tactics,” she said.
Liu was born in Hong Kong and has lived in Australia for over 30 years.
The disruption appears to have been orchestrated in part by Queensland State Senate candidate Drew Pavlou, who said on social media that he was good friends with Howard X and was “one of best things we’ve ever handled”.
Pavlou had previously claimed in posts that Liu had defended Chinese leaders and had ties to the regime. Pavlou described himself as a “young larrikin” who thought the election was boring and needed more excitement.
At the event at Extel Technologies in Melbourne, Morrison praised Chinese Australians.
“I’m talking about the assertive and aggressive nature of the Chinese government, not the Chinese people,” Morrison said. “You know, Chinese Australians are the greatest patriots you could hope for in this country.”
The disruption came at a time of heightened tensions between Australia and China, most recently over a security pact China signed with the Solomon Islands.
Howard X is well known for his impersonation of Kim Jong Un. In 2018 he was arrested and questioned upon arriving in Singapore days before a summit between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump. His real name is Lee Howard Ho Wun.
Media reported that the impersonator was being questioned by police on Friday.
Australia’s election will take place on May 21 and early voting began this week. Opinion polls put the centre-left opposition Labor Party ahead of Morrison’s Conservative coalition.
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