Presidential Office Claims "Idiots" Referred to the Opposition Party, and President Yoon Says He Expects Willing Cooperation from the National Assembly

Yoo Jeong-in / New York, Toronto 2022. 9. 23. 14:07
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President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden talk after the Global Fund Seventh Replenishment Conference in New York on September 21. Yonhap News.

On September 22, President Yoon Suk-yeol, who was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, wrote on social media about the South Korean government’s pledge to give US$100 million to the Global Fund and said, “I expect the willing cooperation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea.” Just before the president’s message, the Office of the President explained that the recent foul language used by President Yoon, was aimed at the massive opposition party in the National Assembly. The Democratic Party of Korea immediately disapproved, and the president’s road to obtaining willing cooperation from the opposition party does not look smooth.

This day, President Yoon mentioned how he attended the Global Fund Seventh Replenishment Conference the previous day and announced South Korea’s pledge to contribute to the Global Fund on Facebook. He then said, “We will act in solidarity with the international community,” and asked for the cooperation of the National Assembly. In a speech at the conference the day before, President Yoon announced plans to give US$100 million to the Global Fund in the next three years.

The president argued, “International solidarity cannot be realized if it does not include specific actions,” and said, “The first international solidarity for the Republic of Korea was the sacrifice and devotion of the UN troops who fought in the war more than seven decades ago.” He continued and said, “Yesterday, the government of the Republic of Korea pledged to give $100 million to the Global Fund. It may be small compared to the $6 billion pledged by the U.S. and the pledges of other countries like France, Germany and Japan, which exceed $1 billion, but it is an increase from our previous contribution.”

President Yoon’s message seeking cooperation from the National Assembly, came at an interesting time, just after his controversial foul language. The day before, President Yoon was caught on a hot mic (camera) referring to some people as “idiots” on his way out of the Global Fund conference room. His comment was released as “It would be so humiliating for Biden if these idiots don’t pass it in Congress,” but the Office of the President refuted that the president never referred to the U.S. Congress or President Biden in a briefing the previous day. Senior Press Secretary Kim Eun-hye said, “The president shared his concern with Foreign Minister Park Jin, that if the massive opposition party, which dominates the right to review the budget (concerning the Global Fund contribution), refuses to carry out the least of our responsibility toward the international community, it could be humiliating for our nation.” She argued that the president was concerned about our National Assembly not approving the pledge. Her explanation, which means the president called the major opposition party “idiots,” is expected to stir political ripples.

President Yoon will end his schedule in New York and arrive in Toronto, Canada in the evening of September 22.

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