Bill Gates’ casual style raises eyebrows in S. Korea

SHARES:

11:47 AM April 23rd, 2013

Recommended
April 23rd, 2013 11:47 AM

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.

Disclaimer: Comments do not represent the views of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments which are inconsistent with our editorial standards. FULL DISCLAIMER
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.