A hot microphone captured South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol calling lawmakers “sons of bitches” during the United Nations General Assembly this week.
The incident occurred after Suk-yeol spoke with President Joe Biden, who had just donated $6 billion to the Global Fund, during a photo op on Wednesday.
Addressing his aides, the South Korean president could be heard saying, “How could Biden not lose face if these motherfuckers don’t approve of him in Congress?”
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in New York: “How could Biden not lose face if these motherfuckers don’t approve of him in Congress?” 🍉 pic.twitter.com/veVXYVSWvi
— QUAN Quan 全权 كمال (@QuanQuan_1231) September 22, 2022
Although initial reports said the comment referred to Biden’s “push to increase US funding to the Global Fund, which would require congressional approval,” according to the China South Morning Post, Yoon Suk-yeol told Korean media that he was referring to lawmakers in his own country. Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, claimed that Yoon did not mention Biden and that the actual Korean word was “pull.” According to the Yonhap News Agency:
The actual word was the Korean word for “throw away” and Yoon was talking about how he would be embarrassed if the National Assembly, controlled by the main opposition Democratic Party, rejected the $100 million he promised to contribute to the Global Fund over three years, he said. .
“Yesterday, the ROK was reduced overnight to a country that mocks an allied nation with which it has been united for nearly 70 years,” Kim told reporters in New York.
“We will always accept criticism of the president and the state administration,” he continued, “but distorting the president’s diplomatic activities and driving a wedge between allies with lies is an act of self-harm to the national interest.”
Likewise, a senior presidential official said that it was very unfortunate that conclusions were drawn about Yoon’s comments.
“I think it is highly inappropriate to draw a link between private comments and diplomatic achievements,” the official said.
“It is quite unfortunate that there is talk of a diplomatic disaster over something like that when he is doing his best to complete a demanding schedule in the ROK national interest.”
A spokesman for the National Security Council said in a statement Thursday that it “would not comment on the hot-mic comments.”
“Our relationship with the Republic of Korea is strong and growing,” the statement said. “President Biden counts on President Yoon as a key ally. The two leaders had a good and productive meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.”
The White House also said that Yoon and Biden had productive talks on the sidelines during the UN General Assembly.
“The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the US-ROK alliance and ensuring close cooperation in addressing the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the White House said in a readout. of the meeting.
“The presidents also discussed our ongoing cooperation on a wide range of priority topics, including supply chain resilience, critical technologies, economic and energy security, global health, and climate change,” the statement added.
According to the korean timesYoon, who has described himself as a conservative, urged countries to unite to protect freedom during his speech to the UN General Assembly.
“When the freedom of any citizen or nation in the global community is in danger, it is the community of nations that must come together in solidarity to defend that freedom,” he said.