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Opposition slams Yoon for diplomatic mishaps, apparent insult of US Congress

Sept. 22, 2022 - 16:43 By Shim Woo-hyun

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (center) talks with US President Joe Biden (left) after attending the seventh replenishment conference of the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in New York on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
The Democratic Party of Korea, the country’s main opposition party, raised the heat on President Yoon Suk-yeol on Thursday after Yoon was caught on camera using derogatory words when referring to the US Congress at the Global Fund's Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York.

As he left the venue, Yoon was caught on camera using a Korean expletive referring to a group of people, apparently referring to the US Congress. Yoon also said that Biden would be humiliated if the "parliament doesn't approve it." From context, Yoon appeared to have been referring to the US Congress.

Yoon was talking to Foreign Minister Park Jin and national security adviser Kim Sung-han.

Seoul's presidential office, however, claimed that Yoon was conversing privately and that linking his used of derogatory terms to diplomatic issues was "inappropriate."

After the video went viral, the Democratic Party honed in on Yoon, saying the president had tarnished the country’s reputation.

Park Hong-keun, the Democratic Party floor leader, criticized Yoon’s use of derogatory words for US political figures as a “major diplomatic accident.”

Park also criticized Yoon’s trip for being fruitless. Previously, Yoon had been expected to hold a formal summit with Biden. The summit, however, did not take place.

Instead, the two leaders briefly met -- for less than a minute -- during a fundraising event on Biden's schedule in New York. According to Seoul's presidential office, Biden's diplomatic schedule on the sidelines of the UN meeting had been shortened due to Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral and other political events that were unforeseeable when Seoul and Washington were negotiating the timetable for the leaders' meeting.

The Democratic Party floor leader said, “I don't want to believe that a brief conversation with US President Biden, which took place standing for maybe 48 seconds at the event venue, was the entire summit.” Park noted that Yoon failed to discuss any pressing economic issues with Biden.

Park also held the government’s diplomatic team accountable for the failures during Yoon’s latest trip, asking for a full-scale replacement of his diplomatic aides.