South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has been in trouble after derogatory remarks about the United States were picked up in an open microphone.
Mr. Yoon, a political novice who took office on May 5, is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly and spoke with US President Joe Biden on Wednesday during a photo opportunity at the Global Fund where the president American had just promised 6 billion dollars. ($9 billion).
“How could Biden not lose face if those f***ers don’t pass him in Congress?” Mr Yoon was then caught telling his aides in footage that has gone viral in South Korea.
A YouTube video of Mr Yoon’s comments racked up more than two million views just hours after it was posted, and “f***ers” became the number one trending topic on Twitter in South Korea on Thursday.
“The president’s words and actions are the national dignity of the country,” wrote one YouTube commenter.
Mr. Yoon’s crude comments appear to refer to Mr. Biden’s desire to increase US funding to the Global Fund, which would require congressional approval.
The Global Fund focuses on the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
The United States is South Korea’s main security ally, with Washington stationing about 27,000 troops in the country to help counter nuclear-armed North Korea.
Mr. Yoon, a former prosecutor, made what analysts describe as a series of unforced errors during his first months in office, which is usually a honeymoon period for new presidents in South Korea.
At one point, his approval rating dropped to 24%, although it has since increased slightly to 32%.
His predecessor, Mr. Moon Jae-in, enjoyed an approval rating of about 70% at the same stage of his tenure, according to poll data, and Mr. Yoon started working with 52% of people. interviewed thinking he was doing a good job.
The rude comments come just days after Mr Yoon’s office was forced to defend its decision not to pay respects to the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II lying in state, allegedly due to ‘heavy traffic’ .
In August, he also came under fire for a chaotic official response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to South Korea, where she landed after a controversial layover in Taiwan.
Critics of Mr Yoon were quick to seize on his latest alleged gaffe. “Mr. Yoon’s foul language tarnishing the US Congress has caused a major diplomatic incident,” said opposition Democratic Party leader Park Hong-keun.
Mr Yoon’s office told AFP it had not commented on the incident.