The way the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau , stood with the President of the National Assembly in South Korea, Kim Jin-pyo, sparked a divided response that included criticism, before the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, which begins today, Saturday, May 20, 2023.
Trudeau and a delegation of Canadian ministers were in South Korea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as to salvage a multi-billion dollar battery factory deal. Before Trudeau addressed the National Assembly, he posed for pictures with Korean politicians, including Jin Pyo.
While taking the photo, Kim tried to raise his body to his feet, in a ludicrous attempt to reduce the 20 cm height difference between the two leaders .
Clip from CPAC, showing how that famous photo came to be. PM Justin Trudeau and Kim Jin-pyo, the speaker of the National Assembly of South Korea. #cdnpoli #FunnyWays pic.twitter.com/vAY1zN14wt— Bob Mackin @Mackin@mastodon.online (@bobmackin) May 18, 2023
Trudeau crouched momentarily to Jin Pyo’s level, in a scene that made the members of the Korean delegation laugh, and then spread his legs to become about the length of Jin Pyo, a movement known in South Korea as manner legs, or “leg etiquette”, and its aim is to reduce the height difference between two people.
Korean media praised the move, with Channel Chosun describing it as a “cute scene,” and YTN saying it was a gesture of “concern for others.”
But the conservative Canadian newspaper True North said that this meeting led some “Canadians to accuse Trudeau of embarrassing Canada abroad again.”
This isn’t the first time the prime minister’s greeting of political leaders has caught the eye, The Guardian notes. In February 2023, his handshake with Danielle Smith, the premier of Alberta (a province in Canada) and one of his fiercest critics, turned into an awkward confusion.
Trudeau was also the first to avoid the strong handshake of former President Donald Trump, which irks world leaders and his political rivals. In their first meeting in 2017, Trudeau put his hand on Trump’s shoulder to protect himself.
Also in 2016, the Canadian Prime Minister tried to shake hands with former Presidents Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, but he got confused and grabbed Peña Nieto’s incorrect hand.