A criticism of US lawmakers by South Korea’s president has gone viral on social media – after a hot mic caught him using an explosive device.
Yoon Suk Yeol appears to have made the remark after meeting US President Joe Biden at a Global Fund conference in New York on Wednesday.
In a video posted by South Korean broadcaster MBC on its official YouTube channel on Thursday, Yoon can be seen walking along the stage after chatting with Biden before turning to his aides and speaking.
“It would be so embarrassing for Biden if the f***ers at the National Assembly don’t approve this [bill],” he then seems to say.
The Global Fund is an international organization trying to defeat HIV, TB and malaria throughout the developing world, and Yoon’s remark appears to be a reference to Biden’s pledge to contribute $6 billion, which would require congressional approval.
The YouTube clip – which has not yet been removed – has been viewed more than four million times since it was uploaded and attracted tens of thousands of comments.
Many social media users have taken to mocking Yoon, while the explosive 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 UN General Assembly after attending the funeral for Queen Elizabeth II in London.
While in London, Yoon’s detractors accused him of disrespect for missing the chance to see the Queen’s coffin in state – which he blamed on the heavy traffic.
Last month, he came under fire for not meeting 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 spokesman for the South Korean presidential official said the remark was “a private comment” and it was “inappropriate to link a private comment with a diplomatic outcome.”
The official also said that “it was regrettable” that Yoon was criticized while keeping up with “a tough schedule for the benefit of national interest.”
Back in Seoul, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo raised the issue at a national assembly on Thursday, saying it was “unclear” what Yoon had actually said.
“I don’t think I can make a clear conclusion here about the circumstances under which he said these words … but it seems that no one has clearly heard the content,” Han said.
His remarks were not lost on members of the opposition Liberal Party, who commented on the issue at Thursday’s National Assembly.
“Diplomatic disasters are recurring under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, and this is due to the president’s repeated diplomatic incompetence,” they said.