South Korean president’s hot mic US criticism goes viral

Published September 22, 2022
U.S President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-youl hold a joint news conference at the People’s House in Seoul on May 21. — Reuters
U.S President Joe Biden and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-youl hold a joint news conference at the People’s House in Seoul on May 21. — Reuters

Already battling record-low approval ratings, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol has landed in trouble again after his disparaging remarks about key ally the United States were caught on a hot mic.

Yoon, a political novice who took office in May, is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, and chatted on Wednesday with Joe Biden during a photo op at the Global Fund where the US President had just pledged $6 billion.

“How could Biden not lose damn face if these f**kers do not pass it in Congress?” Yoon was caught saying to his aides afterwards in footage that went viral in South Korea.

A YouTube video of Yoon’s comments racked up over two million views just hours after it was posted, and “f**kers” became the number one trending topic on Twitter in South Korea on Thursday.

“The president’s words and actions are the national dignity of the country,” one YouTube commenter wrote.

Yoon’s crude comments appear to refer to Biden’s drive to increase US funding to the Global Fund, which would require congressional approval.

The United States is South Korea’s key security ally, with Washington stationing about 27,000 troops in the country to help counter nuclear-armed North Korea.

Yoon, a former prosecutor, has made what analysts describe as a string of unforced errors during his first months in office, which is typically a honeymoon period for new presidents in South Korea.

At one point, his approval rating dropped to 24 per cent, although it has since inched up to 32 percent.

His predecessor, Moon Jae-in, enjoyed approval ratings of about 70pc at the same stage in his term, polling data showed, and Yoon started work with 52 percent of people polled thinking he was doing a good job.

The hot mic comments come just days after Yoon’s office was forced to defend his decision to skip paying respects to Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin lying in state, allegedly due to “heavy traffic”.

In August, he was also criticised for a chaotic official response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to South Korea, where she landed after a contentious stop in Taiwan.

Yoon’s critics were swift to seize on his latest alleged gaffe.

Yoon’s “foul language tarnishing the US Congress caused a major diplomatic mishap,” said Park Hong-keun, floor leader of the opposition Democratic Party.

Yoon’s office told AFP it had no comment on the incident.

Opinion

Editorial

Course correction
24 Feb, 2024

Course correction

THE PTI emerged from the Feb 8 elections as Pakistan’s largest political party. It should start acting like one....
The plot thickens
24 Feb, 2024

The plot thickens

THE recent explosive allegations by Liaquat Ali Chattha, the former commissioner of Rawalpindi, have thrust the...
Trigger-happy police
24 Feb, 2024

Trigger-happy police

ARE the citizens of Karachi becoming fair game again? There were some grisly signs of a rapid return to living...
What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...