US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and new South Korean President Lee Myung Bak met Monday in Seoul just hours after Lee was sworn in as the new president of South Korea. Their meeting marked the most awkward hug in the history of US foreign relations. But I respect her for trying. When Rice walked up to Lee she went right in for the kill. The new president clearly had no idea what in the world she was doing. Then as if to make up for the gaffe, she did the Euro-pretend-like-you-are-kissing-both-cheeks bit. Lee seemed to be asking Rice why she didn’t just freaking bow. It reminded me of a prom night or the last time I tried to hug a Korean. They just don’t do it. I couldn’t find the hug on YouTube, but I will keep my eyes peeled.
Otherwise the meeting seemed to go well. Lee is interested in building strong relations with the US. US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill had this to say about the meeting:
“President Lee said he would do all he could to strengthen US-RoK (Republic of Korea) cooperation on the six-party process,” Hill told reporters after Rice and Lee met at the presidential palace shortly after his inauguration on Monday. “He said that a strong US-RoK relationship does not mean that they would increase tensions with North Korea. On the contrary, a strong US-RoK relationship is good for the inter-Korean dialogue,” Hill said.
My advice? Don’t try to hug Kim Jong-il, homey don’t play that.