One week from a scheduled meeting between leaders of the U.S. and North Korea in Hanoi, an air of urgency permeates the Vietnamese capital as the hosts beef up preparations for the high-profile summit.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are poised to meet in Hanoi on February 27-28, their second meeting in less than a year after a historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
On Wednesday afternoon, a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the third one this month, landed at Noi Bai International Airport in the Vietnamese capital city, carrying a helicopter and other equipment for President Trump’s upcoming visit.
Journalists from foreign news agencies and media outlets have also started to arrive in Hanoi and station themselves at critical locations to capture the early preparations for the summit.
On the downtown streets of Giang Vo, Tran Duy Hung and O Cho Dua, workers could be seen putting up summit banners, planting flowers and fixing things up to welcome two of the world’s most high-profile leaders.
Nguyen Van Thanh, who works for an advertising company in Hanoi, said his team had finished erecting welcome banners, with the main text reading “DPRK-USA Hanoi Summit Vietnam,” on some downtown streets on Wednesday after starting their workday at 4:00 am.
|The national flags of the U.S. and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are flown on a street in Hanoi. Photo: Duong Lieu / Tuoi Tre|
Security is tightened at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel and a government guesthouse on Ngo Quyen Street in Hoan Kiem District, though no official information has been released about where the leaders will stay during the summit.
A worker told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that cleanup and repaint jobs have been ongoing at the sites since February 15 and are expected to complete this weekend.
A barbershop in Hanoi is offering free haircuts to anyone wanting to copy President Trump and Chairman Kim’s distinctive locks.
“The hairstyle of Kim Jong Un is currently popular with my customers since it’s easier to do, while President Trump’s hairstyle is more complicated and takes more time to design,” said Le Tuan Duong, who owns the salon.
"I feel happy with this haircut because people will think I look like the leader of North Korea," said nine-year-old To Gia Huy, whose hair had been molded to perfectly match the slicked-back top and shaved sides of Kim's unique coiffure.
|Foreign reporters set up cameras on a street in Hanoi. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre|
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Tuesday afternoon chaired a meeting to review preparations for the upcoming summit.
“The fact that Vietnam was chosen to host the second Trump-Kim summit continues to underline our country’s growing international stature, and reflects Vietnam’s active role and contribution in international matters,” Phuc said at the meeting.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Hanoi being recognized as a ‘City for Peace’ by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), making more meaningful the fact that it will be part of the peace progress on the Korean Peninsula.
|A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III lands at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on February 20, 2019. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|
|A helicopter (at the back) to be used by U.S. President Donald Trump during his second meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un is unloaded from a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. Photo: Quang Minh / Tuoi Tre|