Bill Gates’ casual style raises eyebrows in S. Korea

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This picture taken on April 22, 2013 shows South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) shaking hands with Microsoft founder Bill Gates before their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul. Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ casual style was the subject of criticism in some South Korean media Tuesday after he shook hands with President Park Geun-Hye, with one hand in his pocket. The picture of the meet-and-greet between Gates and Park on April 23 was splashed on the front page of every national daily, some of which cropped out the offending pocketed hand while most chose to highlight it. AFP

SEOUL – Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ casual style was the subject of criticism in some South Korean media Tuesday after he shook hands with President Park Geun-Hye, with one hand in his pocket.

The picture of the meet-and-greet between Gates and Park Monday was splashed on the front page of every national daily, some of which cropped out the offending pocketed hand while most chose to highlight it.

“Cultural difference, or an act of disrespect?” the JoongAng Ilbo wrote in the accompanying caption.

“Disrespectful handshake? Casual handshake?” the Dong-A Ilbo asked.

South Korea — a deeply hierarchical, Confucian society where etiquette has great significance — is particularly sensitive to any possible slight to its national pride.

While the presidential Blue House declined to comment, social networking sites were clogged with opinion.

“Even considering the cultural difference, there is an appropriate manner for certain occasions… how can he put his hand in his pocket when meeting a leader of the state?” tweeted @msryu67.

Some news portals posted montages of Gates shaking hands with other world leaders, which showed that he has some form when it comes to informal greetings.

In a 2008 meeting with Park’s predecessor Lee Myung-Bak, Gates also kept one hand pocketed, although a 2001 picture with then-president Kim Dae-Jung showed him adopting a more respectful, two-handed shake.

“Gates is a casual man who’s not bound by customs so he shakes hands in this manner even when meeting heads of international organisations or top political figures,” Dong-A Ilbo quoted an unnamed friend of his in Seoul as saying.

And some Koreans suggested the media criticism was misplaced.

“Please, people… don’t think your Confucian mindset is a universal norm elsewhere in the world,” tweeted @itanomaly.

Gates was in South Korea as chairman of the nuclear start-up TerraPower, promoting its project to develop a next-generation nuclear reactor.

Park, meanwhile, was seeking the Microsoft founder’s advice on her plans to build a “creative economy” that moves beyond South Korea’s traditional manufacturing base.

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  • koolkid_inthehouse

    Its casual handshake. He doesn’t have to show up in fancy Armani and dozens of armed bodyguards. We knew who he is. Come on its a compliment to show up casually like a you know each other for a long time. I don’t like Bill Gates by the way. I got hose for all these Windows crap. Microsof will cease supporting XP while my PC has no problem, this will force me to buy a new W8 with bad reviews.

  • josephacheng

    Kim Jong Un talks about obliterating South Korea, and South Koreans don’t seem to care… but Bill Gates has an “awkward” handshake and they’re up in arms?! Crazy.
    Lest they forget, Starcraft I and II run on Windows.

  • goodiepakyutsie

    this is South Korea. they have an image of the importance they have in economic affairs. because well, they are. so they want us to sort of tremble before their leaders. fine with me.

  • John Sulayman

    What shall anger them more? Nuclear missile threats from the North, or a seemingly improper handshake that is against tradition?

    Similar to how the Conclave and Aldaris treated Tassadar in StarCraft I.

  • http://www.facebook.com/manga.gamud.9 Manga Gamud

    Sana dalhin ni Billy dates ang pera niya dito para magamit pambili ng boto sa eleksiyon. Yayaman tayo lahat.

  • hu_yu

    makati daw kasi itlog nya kaya para hindi dyahe, sa loob na lang ng bulsa nya kakamutin

  • DarkSideOfTheMoon2

    he is not a head of state or a politician….he doesnt give a $%&t! Bill Gates is Bill Gates..nothing to prove….no need to follow any protocol…maybe his “thing” is itchy that very moment…..world need to know?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000923389289 David Bobir

    This is a lot of b@llsh!t about nothing. Look at the whole pic. He is inclining his head. A warm smile. There is nothing disrespectful about this. This is a fairly humble guy who also happens to be one of the richest…and most philanthropic. He sees people as people…not necessarily as President this or that. It may look like disrespect to some…it is in fact a very personal greeting!

  • I_kabod

    OA.

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