Biden Confuses Dignitary Title of South Korean President After Flubbing Netanyahu’s Title

Biden Confuses Dignitary Title of South Korean President After Flubbing Netanyahu’s Title

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
|
May 22, 2021

President Biden wrongly addressed South Korean President Moon Jae-in as prime minister Friday, just less than 24 hours after botching the title of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his latest series of gaffe.

The eyebrow-raising misinterpretation from Biden occurred during a White House ceremony awarding the Medal of Honor to a 94-year-old Korean War veteran, Ralph Puckett Jr.

“The people in the Republic of Korea haven’t forgotten, as evidenced by the fact that the prime minister of Korea is here for this ceremony,” Biden said in brief remarks, flubbing the South Korean foreign head of state title who was present and took part in the U.S. Medal of Honor ceremony.

Moon is the first foreign head of state to attend a Medal of Honor award ceremony, according to a senior U.S. official. The visit from the South Korean President is the second foreign head to visit the White House as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was the first in April.

Though Moon took part in the ceremony, South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-Kyun was not one of the Korean delegations who traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in bilateral negotiations.

During remarks, Moon praised Puckett’s work during the battle for Hill 205 in 1950 in fighting off communists.

“Earlier, Col. Puckett told me that when he was in Korea during the Korean War, it was absolutely destroyed. That was true,” Moon said. “But from the ashes of the Korean War, we rose, we came back. And that was thanks to the Korean War veterans who fought for Korea’s peace and freedom. And right now, thanks to their support and efforts, we are enjoying prosperity.”

In the emailed transcript remarks posted on the White House website of Biden’s full speech, the White House added the bracket punctuation marks to “President,” while adding a line crossing out Prime Minister.

On Thursday night, Biden referred to Netanyahu as “President Netanyahu” while delivering remarks where he took full credit for the Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to end the 11-day conflict.

“In my conversation with President Netanyahu, I commended him for the decision to bring the current hostilities to a close within less than 11 days,” Biden said from the White House Cross Hall late Thursday evening. “I also emphasized what I have said throughout this conflict: The United States fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent civilians in Israel.”

The mix-ups of U.S. allies’ dignitary titles are the latest series of frequent gaffes from the oldest president in U.S. history that have provided Biden’s critics with punchlines to mock the 46th president. In March, Biden referred to his vice president, Kamala Harris, as “President Harris” during remarks offering updates on the latest number progress of Americans receiving the COVID vaccine.

Throughout his political career, Biden has gained a reputation for his repetitive verbal slippages and gaffes.

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

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