Monday 4 March 2019

Hair peace 2: Kim Jong Un haircut is free in Vietnam - but not Singapore

In January when it was reported that Singapore and Vietnam were shortlisted for the second US-North Korea summit, I was low-key hoping that we would get it again.

While some have complained that Singapore wasted too much money hosting the first summit last June, the historic occasion was the perfect opportunity for me to get Mr Kim Jong Un’s iconic haircut – for the second time.

The first time was in April 2016 when I was in North Korea for the Pyongyang marathon. I hadn’t cut my hair since.

So as far as I was concerned, it was $16.3 million well spent by our Government to play maître d'hôtel to President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim’s first date because I got a haircut out of it.

And if the two leaders should swing back to Singapore for a second summit, I would have an excuse to get another Kim cut since my previous Kim cut had grown out in the months since the first summit.

Also, maybe Education Minister Ong Ye Kung will get a chance to take another selfie with Mr Kim and hopefully this time, The Guardian newspaper in UK won’t identify Mr Ong as “an unknown man” in the photo.

Alas, to the disappointment of Mr Ong, myself and millions of Crazy Rich Asians fans, Mr Trump announced last month that Summit 2: Endgame would be held in Hanoi, not Singapore.

I couldn’t have been more crestfallen if I had fallen out of bed and fractured my arm. It was like I was punched in the face by an angry cyclist.

Then as if to rub it in, in honour of the second Trump-Kim summit, a Hanoi salon started offering a free Kim cut or Trump dye job to anyone who wanted one.

Except you had to be Hanoi, of course.

And I wasn’t.

But I wanted the free Kim cut.

If only Malaysia had already built its flying car for me to drive to Vietnam.

I went online and found out a return flight to Hanoi would cost at least over $200. That was a lot of money to pay for a free haircut.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

I was about to click the button to book a flight when it occurred to me that I could just get a Kim cut in Singapore for somewhat less than $200 and I wouldn’t have to apply for leave from work to travel to Hanoi.

I also didn’t want to risk deportation from Vietnam for being a Kim impersonator after the haircut. (Yes, I know I’m not fat enough. Thank you very much.)

Anyway, I can’t go to Vietnam because I have a bone spur in my right heel. Seriously, this a real thing. It’s the same as what Mr Trump got that excused him from a whole war in 1968. I’m not malingering. It hurts when I walk.

So last week, I went to the LA Barbershop in Vivocity where I got my commemorative summit Kim cut last year and asked for same. The shop charges $40.66 for a “premium cut, shampoo, scalp massage, hot towel, styling”.

My barber, Tenny, said the Kim cut is basically a half fade and tried to explain to me the difference between a half fade and a soft fade.

But I was too preoccupied wondering whether I should use the $200 I saved by not going to Hanoi to buy the McGriddles hoodie on Carousell.

I told Tenny that someone in Vietnam was cutting people’s hair like Kim Jong Un’s for free, subtly hinting that he could perhaps not charge me too. He said he never heard of such thing and took my credit card.

Well, I tried.

Perhaps I was too subtle.

But now that I’ve had the Kim cut three times, I have to admit, I’m getting a little tired of it. It does not spark joy like it used to.

If there’s a third summit, I think I’ll go for the Trump dye job instead.

- Published in The New Paper, 4 March 2019

EARLIER: How I got my commemorative summit Kim Jong Un cut in 2018