Hot mic captures South Korean leader swearing at US lawmakers

Yoon Suk Yeol appears to have made the comment after meeting US President Joe Biden at a conference for the Global Fund in New York on Wednesday.

In a video published 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 those f***ers at the National Assembly didn’t approve this [bill]”, he seems to say.

The Global Fund is an international organization that seeks to defeat HIV, TB and malaria in the developing world and Yoon’s comment appears to be a reference to Biden’s pledge to contribute $6 billion, which requires approval from Congress.

The YouTube clip – which has not yet been taken down – 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 expletive 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 mis-steps by Yoon, who arrived in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly after attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London .

While in London, Yoon’s opponents accused him of being disrespectful because he missed the chance to see the Queen’s coffin lying in state – which he accused of heavy traffic.

Last month, he came under fire for failing to meet 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 lapse, Yoon’s team has gone on the defensive.

In a background briefing with reporters, a high-ranking official for the South Korean presidency said the comment was “a private comment” and that it was “inappropriate to connect a private comment with a diplomatic outcome.”

The official also said that “it was unfortunate” Yoon was criticized while keeping up with “a difficult schedule for the benefit of national interest.”

“There is no reason for him to talk about the US here,” Kim Eun-hye, Yoon’s senior press secretary, said in a separate briefing, repeating that many people seemed to have “misunderstood” his words.

Back in Seoul, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo addressed the issue at a session of the 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 in which he said these words…but it seems that no one has heard the content clearly,” Han said.

His comments were not lost on members of the liberal opposition party who commented on the issue at the National Assembly on Thursday.

“Diplomatic disasters are returning under Yoon Suk Yeol’s administration and this is due to the president’s repeated diplomatic incompetence,” she said.