Yoon Suk Yeol Sings ‘American Pie’ after nuclear deterrence talks with Joe Biden : NPR
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol treated President Joe Biden and his fellow dinner guests to a rendition of Don McLean’s “American Pie” at the White House Wednesday night.
It was a busy night for the two heads of state, who earlier announced their Washington Declaration on nuclear deterrence and showed the strengthening of economic ties.
But at home, Yoon faces criticism for pushing anti-feminist legislation and straining the relationship between South Korea and Japan.
Who is he? Yoon Suk Yeol, 62, is the President of South Korea. He began his five-year term last May.
- Yoon defeated Democratic candidate Lee Jae-myung as a political newcomer, winning by a margin of less than 1%.
- A member of the right-wing People’s Power Party, Yoon ran on a platform of deregulating the economy and restoring unity in the country. He also appealed to anti-feminist voters, particularly young men, by promising to abolish the Ministry for Gender and Family Equality during his campaign.
- Over the past year, Yoon has deepened the relationship between South Korea and the United States, which seeks in South Korea a partner against economic competition with China and an ally amid tensions over Taiwan.
- He is also, apparently, a decent singer. For a brief moment, the White House became a noraebang, which means karaoke place in Korean — the phrase literally translates to “song room.” Here’s his full performance from Wednesday night’s dinner reception:
What’s the big deal? Yoon is on a six-day US tour (no, not for a cappella). His trip marks the first time a South Korean head of state has visited the United States in 12 years, and comes at a time of rising nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.
- Biden said in a joint press conference with Yoon on Wednesday that a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies, which includes South Korea, would mean the “end of any regime” to blame.
- Yoon also met with members of the private sector, including Tesla chief Elon Musk, as South Korea seeks deeper investments in semiconductors, batteries and electric vehicles. Korean Yonhap News Agency reported that during a meeting Wednesday, Yoon asked Musk to invest in South Korea and consider it as a candidate for the company’s next gigafactory.
What are people saying? Yoon addressed a joint session of Congress on Thursday, touting the deep relationship between the United States and South Korea that began 70 years ago. He also dropped several cultural references in the speech, which he delivered in English.
- “Culture is helping to further deepen our understanding and friendship. Nationality and language differences are no longer barriers,” said Yoon, citing the success of the Oscars films. A parasite and Mines, and mentions the K-Pop groups BTS and Black Pink. “BTS beat me to the White House, but I beat them to Capitol Hill,” he said.
- But at home, the South Korean president has been experiencing lower levels of support for promoting a closer diplomatic relationship with Japan despite its colonial and imperialist past.
So, what now?
- Yoon also scheduled meetings with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Yoon is expected to visit Harvard University and MIT on Friday before leaving for Seoul on Saturday.