Bill Gates 'Rude' Handshake Causes Uproar in South Korea

Image: Bill Gates 'Rude' Handshake Causes Uproar in South Korea April 22, 2013 photo shows South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, shaking hands with Microsoft founder Bill Gates before their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul. Gates' casual style (shaking hands with one hand in his pocket) was criticized in the South Korean media.

Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 03:07 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Bill Gates' one-armed, hand-in-pocket handshake with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday has reportedly created quite a stir among the nation's media outlets which described the salutation as "rude."

"Perhaps it was his all-American style but an open jacket with hand in pocket? That was way too casual. It was very regretful," said Chung Jin-suk, secretary general at the Korean National Assembly, reported ABC News.

The uproar even prompted an official response from South Korea's presidential office, notes South Korea's Dong-al-Ilbo newspaper.

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"Bill Gates took a similar pose for a picture when he met former President Lee Myung-bak five years ago," the statement read. "Just think of it as an American style of greeting."

In Asian culture, particularly in Korea, Gates' hand-in-pocket handshake is considered rude and suggests that he sees himself as superior to the party he is greeting, noted ABC News' Joohee Cho. One-handed handshakes are generally exchanged between close friends or initiated by someone when greeting another party that is either younger or their age, added Cho.

The uproar prompted a closer inspection of Gates' handshaking history with world leaders, revealing a pattern of pocket-shaking by the Microsoft co-founder over the years.

In a photo montage compiled by the Atlantic, a one-handed Gates shakes the hands of multiple world leaders including: China's President Xi Jinping in April; Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna last May; Secretary General of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon last September; former French President Nicolas Sarkozy last January; and former South African President Thabo Mbeki in 2006.

One world leader Gates did not give a hand-in-pocket handshake to was Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy.

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Gates was in South Korea on a three day visit to promote his start-up TerraPower, which is developing next-generation nuclear reactors, reported ABC News.

Gates, the richest person in the United States with a net worth of $67 billion, hasn't commented on the South Korean controversy.

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