Mistakes And Controversy Shadow South Korea’s Yoon Trips To UN And London

SEOUL –

A series of blunders and controversies is overshadowing South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s first major foreign tour, sending his ratings plummeting and inviting scathing criticism from some lawmakers, even within his own party.

This week, Yoon visited London for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral and then New York on his first trip to the United States to attend the UN General Assembly, before arriving in Canada on Thursday.

In the most high-profile controversy, Yoon was caught cursing into a lit microphone as he left an event in New York on Wednesday after a brief conversation with US President Joe Biden.

“What a shame…if these bastards refuse to pass it in parliament,” Yoon told Foreign Minister Park Jin in a video released by South Korean broadcasters, which went viral on social media.

Opposition lawmakers accused Yoon of insulting Biden and dishonoring South Korea, as the media initially reported that Yoon was saying that Biden would be embarrassed if the US Congress did not pass a bill related to South Korea. financing of a global initiative.

His press secretary, Kim Eun-hye, dismissed the accusation, saying that Yoon was referring to the South Korean parliament without mentioning Biden.

Reuters was unable to independently verify what exactly Yoon said.

Yoon’s crude comments drew criticism from some members of his own party, with the leader of the room calling it “very regrettable.”

Officials hoped the trip would be an opportunity to showcase Yoon’s vision of what they called a “global ground state,” deterring North Korean weapons tests, and address other pressing issues, including US subsidies for electric vehicles.

Opposition lawmakers also accused Yoon of “degrading national prestige” by failing to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth on her first day in London, for which her office blamed heavy traffic. Traffic was strictly controlled in London as mourners queued for miles to see the Queen’s coffin, with some high-profile guests, including French President Emmanuel Macron, arriving there on foot.

They also criticized Yoon for failing to hold proper summits with Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, describing his trip as a “diplomatic disaster.”

Yoon and Biden had planned informal talks in New York, but ended up having only a 48-second conversation at the Global Fund. Yoon’s office said it was a “Plan B” because of Biden’s schedule changes, saying they also met in London when Yoon raised the issue of electric vehicle subsidies.

Previously, controversy erupted after Japanese media reported that Kishida had considered canceling a meeting with Yoon.

An official in Yoon’s office said there was a “disparity of opinion” about the timing of the talks’ announcement and that Tokyo appeared “cautious” as both sides explore ways to improve strained ties.

Diplomatic controversies could make it difficult for Yoon to win the support of the opposition who has a majority in parliament to pass laws or advance his policy and

they have helped shorten his honeymoon as a voter after his election victory in May. Yoon’s approval ratings fell to 28% in a Gallup poll released on Friday from 33% last week.


Information from Hyonhee Shin; Edited by Lincoln Feast

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