U.S.

Hot mic catches South Korean leader swearing about US lawmakers



CNN

A critique of US lawmakers by the president of South Korea has gone viral on social media — after a hot microphone picked him up with an expletive.

Yoon Suk Yeol appears to have made the comment after meeting US President Joe Biden at a Global Fund conference in New York on Wednesday.

A video published Thursday by South Korean television broadcaster MBC on its official YouTube channel shows Yoon walking along the stage after talking to Biden before turning and speaking to his aides.

“It would be so embarrassing for Biden if those f***ers in the National Assembly don’t approve [bill]’ he seems to say.

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The Global Fund is an international organization trying to beat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world, and Yoon’s comment appears to be a reference to Biden’s $6 billion contribution, which requires Congressional approval.

The YouTube clip – which has not yet been removed – has since been viewed more than four million times and has garnered tens of thousands of comments.

Many social media users have mocked Yoon, while the expletive he used has become a popular search term on South Korean online portal Naver.

This is just the latest in what critics say is a series of diplomatic missteps by Yoon, who arrived in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly after attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London.

While in London, Yoon’s opponents accused him of disrespect for missing the opportunity to see the Queen’s coffin in state – which he blames on the heavy traffic.

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Last month, he came under fire for failing to meet US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she visited South Korea as part of a tour of Asia.

After what appears to be his latest foreign policy blunder, Yoon’s team has gone on the defensive.

In a background briefing with reporters, a spokesperson for the South Korean presidential official said the comment was “a private comment” and it was “inappropriate to link a private comment to a diplomatic outcome.”

The official also said it was “unfortunate” that Yoon was criticized for adhering to “a strenuous schedule in the interest of the country’s interest”.

Back in Seoul, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo addressed the issue during a session of the National Assembly on Thursday, saying it was “unclear” what Yoon had actually said.

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“I don’t think I can draw a clear conclusion here about the circumstances in which he said those words…but it seems no one heard the content clearly,” Han said.

His comments were not lost on members of the liberal opposition party who commented on the issue during the National Assembly on Thursday.

“Under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, diplomatic disasters have been recurring and this is due to the president’s repeated diplomatic incompetence,” they said.

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