Dozens of bodyguards wearing red pins and earpieces stood inside a velvet rope line cordoning off part of the lobby at the luxury hotel.
Police in black berets and riot gear cautioned onlookers to back up, and then back up again. A hushed silence fell, a single official camera flashed.
Kim Jong Un was in the house.
Kim made his debut before international media Sunday afternoon, traveling in a motorcade of more than 20 cars and checking into the St. Regis hotel before his meeting Tuesday with President Donald Trump. He arrived in a shiny Mercedes stretch limo bearing the North Korean flag.
About an hour and half later, security and police roped off the lobby and ordered everyone in earshot to put their cellphones away. Kim emerged from an elevator to leave for a meeting with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.
He sauntered to the hotel front entrance in a relaxed gait, surrounded by bodyguards in identical haircuts and black suits.
Craning their necks behind the ropes were reporters, hotel guests and residents of the condominiums next door. There was a South Korean family with young daughters, a pair of teenage girls and the hotel chef.
After Kim left, hotel staff and a stern North Korean official questioned a man for having sneaked a photo of Kim on his phone. Looking sweaty and nervous, he deleted the photos from his phone and swiftly left the lobby.
© 2018 Los Angeles Times
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