HONG KONG — Ever since President Trump announced in his State of the Union address that he would be traveling to Vietnam this week for a second summit meeting with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, journalists around the world have been scrambling to book their flights and hotel rooms.
Vietnamese officials, too, have been working hard to set up facilities where thousands of visiting reporters can easily tap on laptops, upload video footage and record voice-overs.
But just as Mr. Kim’s armored train arrived at Vietnam’s northern border on Tuesday morning, the Foreign Ministry abruptly announced that it was relocating the “American Media Center” from the Meliá Hotel in central Hanoi, the capital, to a nearby building. It turned out that Mr. Kim himself would be staying at the Meliá — and presumably did not want to see Western journalists at the breakfast buffet.
“So, apparently, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, is staying at our hotel, and it’s causing a lot of security issues,” Kristin Fisher, a Washington correspondent for Fox News, said in a video filmed at the Meliá just before Mr. Kim’s black limousine arrived.
A moment later in the video, a man with a security badge waves a hand disapprovingly at Ms. Fisher.
“What?” she asks. “No filming? O.K.”
Diplomats and reporters said the last-minute switch was emblematic of the logistical mayhem that surrounded the prelude to the Hanoi meeting, which was arranged with far less lead time than talks held in Singapore last year.
Vietnam and North Korea are both run by authoritarian governments that prohibit independent domestic media and typically go to great lengths to squash political dissent and control the flow of information.
But even Vietnamese officials were frustrated by the 11th-hour changes forced upon them by the North Koreans before the Hanoi meeting, an American diplomat said.
The diplomat, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media about the subject, said that his comment did not refer specifically to the Meliá issue, but to multiple site changes that had caused headaches for all involved.
When it was first reported in South Korea on Tuesday that Mr. Kim would stay in the same hotel as the American press center, many analysts expressed surprised.
“Until recently, it would have been unimaginable for Chairman Kim’s entourage and the journalists from the United States, North Korea’s ‘sworn enemy,’ to reside under the same roof, even if temporarily,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea.
“If Chairman Kim really accepted the risk of him and his aides being exposed to the cameras of American journalists, it could be a sign that he wanted to show the American media a willingness to negotiate denuclearization and improve ties with the United States,” Mr. Cheong added.
The apparent change of plans at the Meliá will not directly affect Mr. Trump, who is staying across town at the JW Marriott Hotel where President Barack Obama stayed during a trip to Vietnam in 2016. (Former President Bill Clinton spoke at the hotel in 2015, at the American Embassy’s Fourth of July party, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the normalizing of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the United States.)
But it may affect American journalists, even if they booked rooms at hotels other than the Meliá, because now they will have to file their stories from somewhere else.
The international media center for the summit meeting, where the White House press corps will be moved, is downtown in a Soviet-style events center of pillars and chandeliers that was built in 1985. Rows of desks have been placed in various rooms, which are usually hired out for concerts and weddings.
On Tuesday afternoon, one anteroom in the media center was being prepared for “the special launching ceremony of the stamps set ‘DPRK-USA Hanoi summit.’ ” The media cafeteria — which was offering Vietnamese spring rolls, beef braised with red wine and “assorted bread with butter” — required coupons, in the typical communist canteen style. Women in traditional Vietnamese dress stood at the entrance collecting the meal tickets.
Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump are expected to meet on Wednesday and Thursday at one of two downtown venues. One is the Government Guest House, the former headquarters of a transitional government led by Vietnam’s founding president, Ho Chi Minh, after he declared the country’s independence from France in 1945. Another is the colonial-era Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, where Senator John McCain of Arizona tended to stay on his trips to Vietnam.
At the Metropole this week, all guests have been required to pass through metal detectors and to show specially stamped identification papers to enter.
The South Korean news media reported on Tuesday that the summit meetings on Thursday could take place at the Metropole. Guests have also been informed that some of the hotel’s facilities would have limited access from Tuesday through Thursday night.