A man posing as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un disrupted Australia’s election campaign on Friday when he erupted into an event Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended with lawmaker Gladys Liu
The impersonator, who later identified himself by the stage name Howard X, began talking to assembled media.
“Thank you so much. Gladys Liu is the Communist candidate for Australia,” he said, before being interrupted by an aide to Morrison.
‘Excuse me, you’ll have to leave. This is the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen in a campaign,” said assistant Nick Creevey.
The impersonator replied, “Excuse me, you are not telling the Supreme Leader what to do. I support Gladys Liu.”
The impersonator left the Melbourne location shortly afterwards.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Liu said she was focused on delivering results for the Melbourne communities she represents.
“I don’t get 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 appeared to have been orchestrated in part by long-awaited Queensland state senate candidate Drew Pavlou, who said on social media that he was close friends with Howard X and that it was “one of the best things we’ve ever done”.
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 can 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.
Media reported that the impersonator was questioned by police on Friday.
The elections in Australia will take place on May 21 and the early voting started this week. Opinion polls suggest the center-left opposition Labor party is ahead of Morrison’s conservative coalition.