Yoon’s Hot Mic Comments Spark Controversy During Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was found cursing U.S. lawmakers on a microphone shortly after his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden this past Thursday.

Yoon, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, met President Biden at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference.

The conference was attended by Biden, who has pledged to contribute six billion dollars from the U.S. to fight AIDS as well as tuberculosis and malaria all over the world. This amount of money would require approval from Congress.

“It would be so humiliating for Biden if these idiots don’t pass it in Congress,” Yoon was heard telling the Foreign Minister Park Jin in a video that was broadcast through South Korean broadcasters, according to The Washington Post.

The South Korean president’s office has denied that Yoon’s comments were directed toward Congress. The spokesperson for the president said that Yoon did not refer to Biden in any way and that the statement is being taken to mean the same thing in Korean. She also pointed out that when she spoke of “parliament,” Yoon was speaking of the South Korean parliament, and rather than that of the U.S. Congress.

UNAIDS is pleased with donors who have increased donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund). Donors have pledged $14.25 billion to help efforts to stop these three diseases – and with more money to be announced in the coming months. The pledges were made in the context of the World Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference hosted by President Joe Biden.

Countries responded up to meet the task of increasing their funding by 30%, showing confidence in the solid direction of the Global Fund and its partners. In addition to the $6 billion pledged by the United States Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and South Africa all increased their contribution by 30 percent. One of the most significant contributions was made by the Republic of Korea which increased its contribution by 300% up to $100 million dollars.

Many developing countries that are battling massive HIV epidemics also increased their contributions to support the Global Fund. Burkina Faso increased its contribution by 100%, Kenya by 40%, Uganda and Togo by 50%, and Cote d’Ivoire by more than 30 percent. Its fellow members include the Central African Republic, Eswatini, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe all contributed to the Global Fund despite facing huge fiscal problems made worse by the current global crisis.

Yoon received a broader smear from opposition politicians who accused him of inflicting insults on Biden and disgracing the nation. South Korean media reports initially stated that Yoonwas telling the truth and that Biden would be embarrassing the event if Congress failed to adopt a bill that would allow for the funding of a global program.

A U.S. National Security Council spokesperson stated that they will “not comment on the hot mic comments,” according to the Washington Post.

“Our relationship with the Republic of Korea is strong and growing,” the statement from NSC stated. “President Biden counts President Yoon as a key ally. The two leaders had a good, productive meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday,” it added.

President Biden’s FY2023 budget includes the request for $2 billion to the Global Fund intended to be the first element of the total U.S. $3 billion tri-year Seventh Replenishment pledge. This shows how the United States Government’s commitment to match the amount of $1 to every $2 given from other contributors, as well as the determination in saving lives as well as combating HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. The United States is working closely with Congress to expand these long-standing, bipartisan investments.

The United States is proud to be the biggest donor to health worldwide. While they strive to end the HIV/AIDS and TB as well as malaria outbreaks, the White House remains determined to strengthen health systems and institutions, increase global health security, improving sexual and reproductive health rights which include maternal, newborn as well as child health, bridging the gap in nutrition and non-communicable diseases; and increasing efforts to ensure universal health coverage as well as in the Sustainable Development Agenda. In the year Fiscal Year 2021, the United States provided over $9 billion to fund global health programs. This was in addition to more than $16 billion in life-saving health, economic and COVID-19 aid to partners fighting this deadly virus and its devastating effects. The funds will provide vaccines, life-saving medical supplies to hospitals, as well as aid to the communities that are least able to access them.

It is important to note that the U.S. Government’s substantial investments in these health-related priorities are a reflection of their determination to work with partners to improve the health system and stop these diseases, which includes the end of HIV within the United States. At the heart of this effort is the pursuit of equality, which means that the U.S. ensures that every person – regardless of the person they are or who they love, or where they came from – can lead a healthy, productive, and satisfying life.

Yoon’s comments about the hot mic must be taken into consideration. Maybe we don’t have that relationship that we thought we did. It’s possible that the U.S. is doing something positive, and comments like those made by Yoon aren’t desired or required in today’s global environment.