President Park Geun-hye shakes hands with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates at Cheong Wa Dae on Monday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)
Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently became a topic of heated discussion online after a picture of his handshake with President Park Geun-hye was released by media.
Park and Gates held a meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Monday and discussed various topics including alternative energy sources, nuclear reactors and Seoul’s drive for economic growth.
Controversy arose from an unexpected element of their meeting; their handshake. As Gates shook Park’s hand, he had the other hand in his pocket. Among Koreans, it is considered disrespectful to put one’s hand in your pocket while shaking another person’s hand
Internet users started arguing over whether the software mogul acted inappropriately.
Many said that Gates had done nothing wrong, as he is an American whose culture is very different from that of Korea. Others argued that Gates should have been mindful of the customs of the country he was visiting, especially when meeting the head of the state.
The topic was so frequently discussed online that as of Tuesday morning, “Bill Gates” became one of the most searched keywords on Naver, the most visited web portal in South Korea.
It is unlikely that the handshake is to become a diplomatic issue, as the president’s office reportedly was unconcerned about Gate’s handshake regardless of the heated discussion online.
By Yoon Min-sik