Bill Gates 'disrespects' South Korea's female president

Bill Gates has found himself at the centre of a cultural row after he was accused of disrespecting the South Korean president by his 'rude' handshake yesterday.

The Microsoft founder has been heavily criticised by the country's media because he shook President Park Geun-hye hand, while keeping his left in his trouser pocket.

Korean newspapers attacked the billionaire for his casual style and pictures of the meeting were splashed across the front page of the country's national newspapers today.

This picture of Bill Gates shaking hands with South Korean President Park Geun-hye with his left in his pocket was splashed across the country's newspapers on Tuesday with the media accusing him of 'disrespecting' the leader

The Presidential palace has not commented on the handshake furore

Some publications cropped out his pocketed hand, while others highlighted it.

The JoongAng newspaper wrote: 'Cultural difference, or an act of disrespect?' while others called it a 'disrespectful and casual handshake'.

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A one-hand shake is often seen as disrespectful in South Korea and parts of Asia, and is normally reserved for someone younger or a good friend.

Mr Gates was in the country to give a lecture on the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at the National Assembly in Seoul.

He met university students and executives of Samsung Electronics Company before his scheduled meeting with President Park.

Some South Korean newspapers cropped out the offending hand while others highlighted it

The Microsoft founder was visiting South Korea to give a lecture for the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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

Korean media reported that Gates has caused similar controversy in the past when meeting the country's leaders.

In 2002, Gates gave a two-handed shake to the late Kim Dae-jung but in 2008 gave President Lee Myung-Bak's a 'disrespectful' handshake.

It has led to speculation in South Korea that it was done deliberately and reflects his political preference.

No one from the Gates camp of the presidential palace has commented.


This ok sign would be considered vulgar in Greece or Turkey

It is not only in South Korea that greetings can prove offensive.

In Japan, it is impolite not to bow lower than the other person when greeting or thanking them.

A handshake can also be a faux pas in France if a kiss on the cheek would have been more appropriate.

Shoes and feet can be an etiquette minefield in different parts of the world. Not taking shoes off in Maori or Muslim sacred spaces is very rude.

In Finland and Scandinavian countries, not removing shoes when entering someone's home is also discourteous.

Clothes are also very important in temples and churches. People should not enter a church in Italy with bare legs or arms and that rule generally applies to other religions.

In Buddhist temples, it is important to sit with feet tucked under so that they do not point at the Buddha.

Whereas a pat on the head can is affectionate in much of the Western world, it is very rude in Thailand.

In Buddhism the head is the most pure region of the body.

In the UK and America, the humble okay sign is a positive gesture but in Greece and Turkey it is seen as very vulgar.

Eating with your left hand in India and Middle Eastern countries is also considered rude as it is reserved for bodily hygiene and thought of as unclean.

Giving a clock or a watch as a gift in China or Taiwan may be regarded as a faux-pas, as it traditionally associated with counting the seconds to the recipient's death.