South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks at the Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York on September 21, 2022, as part of the Global Fund Seventh Replenishment Conference. MANDEL NGAN AFP SEOUL - A series of gaffes and controversies is overshadowing South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol's first major overseas tour, sending his ratings plunging and inviting scathing criticism from some lawmakers even within his own party.
Yoon visited London this week for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth and then New York in his first US trip to attend the UN General Assembly before arriving in Canada on Thursday.
Yoon was caught cursing on a hot mic after a brief chat with US President Joe Biden after he left an event in New York on Wednesday.
Yoon told Foreign Minister Park Jin in a video that went viral on social media that these bastards refuse to approve it in parliament.
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The opposition claimed that Yoon insulted Biden and disgraced South Korea, as media initially reported that Yoon said Biden would be embarrassed if the US Congress did not pass a bill relating to funding of a global initiative.
His press secretary, Kim Eun-hye, dismissed the accusation, saying Yoon was talking to the South Korean parliament without mentioning Biden.
It is not possible to verify what Yoon said.
Yoon's crude comments prompted criticism from some members of his own party, with its floor leader calling it regrettable. Officials had hoped the trip would show Yoon's vision for a global pivotal state, deterring North Korea's weapons tests and address other pressing issues, including US subsidies for electric vehicles.
Opposition lawmakers accused Yoon of demeaning national prestige by failing to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth on his first day in London, for which his office blamed heavy traffic. As mourners queued for miles to see the queen's coffin, and some high-level guests including French President Emmanuel Macron arrived on foot, traffic was tightly controlled in London.
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 just a 48 second chat at the Global Fund. Yoon's office said that was a Plan B due to changes in Biden's schedule, and said they also met in London when Yoon raised the issue of EV subsidies.
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After Japanese media reported that Kishida had been considering cancelling a meeting with Yoon, controversy erupted.
An official at Yoon's office said there was a disparity between opinions over the timing of the announcement of the talks, and Tokyo seemed cautious as both sides tried to improve strained ties.
The diplomatic controveries could make it harder for Yoon to win the support of the opposition that holds a majority in parliament to pass legislation or boost his policy drive, and have helped cut short his voter honeymoon after his May election win. Yoon's approval ratings fell to 28 percent in a survey released by Gallup last week, from 33 percent.