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back to article Bill Gates offends Koreans after sticking hand down trousers

Bill Gates has managed to offend the whole of South Korea after brazenly breaking the country's strict but unwritten handshake rules. He greeted female President Geun Hye Park with the customary one-handed palm press, but neglected to remove his other hand from his trouser pocket. Using one mitt with the other stuffed in a …

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Holmes

So?

Using one mitt with the other stuffed in a pocket is considered extremely rude in Korea. It is a manoeuvre only carried out "when someone feels superior to whoever they are greeting".

He DOES feel superior to whoever he is greeting.

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Meh

Maybe

The Koreans should be a little more understanding, especially considering he is a 'foreigner' to them.

We in the West have to be tolerant in this age of multiculturalism and have to bend over backwards to accommodate every 'johnny foreigners' foibles.

If we can do it, so should they.

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Anonymous Coward

'twas an itch

He had an itch and needed a scratch.

Come on guys, how many times do you get an itch and need to readjust or have a scratch and your sub-conscience kicks in and without thinking......

Until you hear someone yell, 'stop scratching your balls!'

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Alert

Re: So?

Sounds like an honest mistake. I didn't know about this, and I hope I didn't accidentally do it when I visited Korea.

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Go

scratching your balls!

...or "playing pocket billiards" as my ex used to call it!

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Eric Pode got it right

> He had an itch and needed a scratch.

One of The Burkiss Way's more memorable passages had Mr Croydon being asked:

"Are you feeling up to it?" which brought the reply

"Naaahh, I was only scratching my leg"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe

Therein lies the problem.

Certainly in the UK, we have to break backs to accommodate foreign culture and its ways, whereas if we go to 99.9% of the countries from which we receive immigrants or asylum seekers, we get fuck all in the way of accommodation for our needs and wants.

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Re: Maybe

>We in the West have to be tolerant in this age of multiculturalism and have to bend over backwards to

accommodate every 'johnny foreigners' foibles.

Is that why we go to 'johnny foreigner' land, get drunk, fight in the streets, get naked, etc. etc. in our thousands?

If you go to a foreign country you should live by their rules, or fuck off home. This includes covering up when you go to a conservative culture, and not demanding the right to do exactly that in a western culture. If you don't like someone else's culture, wherever it is, put up with it, or don't go there.

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Coat

Re: Maybe

seeing as the president has bent over backwards to let the country know that she is (and the should be) accomodating his american ways, and seeing as the ones howling about being mortally offended by his lack of 'being exactly like us and respecting our culture' are probably the korean equivalent of the uk daily mail reader, I put to you that the uk and south korea has more in common than you would think :)

"hold jacket in one hand, put other hand in jacked pocket, shake bum at president" icon used for obvious reasons :)

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Re: Maybe

(and the should be) = (and that they (the country) should be)

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Re: Maybe

Though much of James Dyson's autobiography is a fairly tedious account of his patent struggles, he did relate his experience of Japan. He sought the services of consultants who advised to learn the customs, and to work out someone's status so as to choose the appropriate greeting, and so much other stuff that he just thought:

"Sod it... I'm never going to convince them that I'm Japanese, and anyway they want me here because I'm not one of them... I may as well act like an Englishman, and concentrate on delivering what I'm here to do."

That's not to say that you shouldn't keep some basic human wits about you when abroad... even as a child, I remember a funeral passing through the square of small French town... and all bystanders took off their hats and looked respectful, except for one loudly dressed American family.

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Re: Maybe

@AC - "if we go to 99.9% of the countries from which we receive immigrants or asylum seekers, we get fuck all in the way of accommodation for our needs and wants."

You sound like my parents, who take a box of tea bags with them whenever they go abroad. They also read the Daily Mail, much to my shame.

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Re: Maybe

Yes, we do try to accomodate other peoples' cultures. That's what makes us a more attractive target for immigration than most other places, and why we, with the help of immigrants, do so much better than most other places, attracting the best, brightest, most driven people from those other places.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe

> we get fuck all in the way of accommodation for our needs and wants.

Oh, apart from that little nicety of generally speaking to us in our own language, but I guess that's nothing?

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Re: Maybe

To people saying it's not offensive because Bill Gates is a foreigner, what would YOU say if Bill Gates walked up to the queen of England, slapped her round the face and said FUCK YOU. We need to be more careful.

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Re: Maybe

"We in the West have to be tolerant in this age of multiculturalism and have to bend over backwards to accommodate every 'johnny foreigners' foibles."

The koreans appear to have had more sense than go down the route of "rainbow diversity" multiculturalism and political correctness BS that we've to put up with here thanks to all the deluded liberal brainwashing over the last 30 years, so they just say it the way they see it. Can't blame them really, if its rude there then its rude. End of. However if I was Gates I'd have just said it was my personal Gangnam Style.

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Facepalm

Re: Maybe

"You sound like my parents, who take a box of tea bags with them whenever they go abroad."

Which is obviously completely unlike all the foreign visitors bringing all their own foodstuffs and drinks into britain when they visit. I mean they're british, so obviously its being insular and xenophobic, whereas a foreigner bringing what they like with them is merely them enjoying their cultural heritage. Right?

"They also read the Daily Mail, much to my shame."

Well don't worry, when you get around to wearing long trousers you'll find out that the world isn't quite the fluffy skip down the street together multi-culti love in you obviously think it is.

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Re: Maybe

"The Koreans should be a little more understanding, especially considering he is a 'foreigner' to them."

Frankly: Balls.

It takes little effort and a passing familiarity with the idea of good manners to spend about half an hour reading up on basic etiquette when visiting another country. The idea of not bothering to do so before meeting a Prime Minister is staggeringly rude.

He is foreign to them, but they are foreign to him. The remiss is his, as the visitor.

Basic. Fscking. Manners.

"We in the West have to be tolerant in this age of multiculturalism and have to bend over backwards to accommodate every 'johnny foreigners' foibles."

Wow. That's amazingly bigoted.

Clearly you're not bending over backwards at all if you refer to the rest of the planet like that and consider that learning basic etiquette is somehow a massive burden that is taking a step too far.

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Re: Maybe

"Certainly in the UK, we have to break backs to accommodate foreign culture and its ways, "

Bull.

Speak many languages, do you?

Understands the rudiments of other world religions and basic manners in other cultures?

Frankly, Brits are an embarrassment overseas, overladen with Imperial arrogance and an utter unwillingness to adapt to the manners of others.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Maybe

@Chris Wareham:

I take teabags with me :S

Whats wrong with me disliking everyone elses tea, no-one has ever had an issue making me tea with my own tea bags.

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Angel

Re: Maybe

With all due respect, the comparison being drawn is a little extreme. Slapping someone round the face and swearing (most likely with an aggressive tone that you would notice even if you didn't understand the language) is offensive in pretty much ANY culture. A better comparison might be Bill Gates dining with the queen and not stopping eating when she does. A faux pas for sure, but forgiveable.

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Re: Maybe @Chris Wareham

So do I! have you ever tasted the tea outside the UK? vile stuff! impossible to get a decent lady grey or even earl grey.... Odd as it may sound, I always take tea to China... they may know & grow very good tea, but they have no idea how to blend it like we do!

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Re: Maybe

I did not know that it was an important part of U.S. culture to shake hands with one hand in your pocket. Learn something every day.

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Re: Maybe

"Well don't worry, when you get around to wearing long trousers you'll find out that the world isn't quite the fluffy skip down the street together multi-culti love in you obviously think it is."

Although if you read the Daily Mail, you think that women and immigrants cause cancer.

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Re: Maybe

@NomNomNom what would YOU say if Bill Gates walked up to the queen of England, slapped her round the face and said FUCK YOU

Don't be stupid. The problem in Korea was an accidental infringement of a local cultural convention. There are plenty of countries where greeting somebody with your hand in your pocket isn't a problem, but I don't suppose you can instance a single one where slapping somebody's face and saying "fuck you" isn't deliberately offensive.

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Re: Maybe @psyx

Surely someone should have said to him, when greeting in South Korea you should use both hands or something like that? doesn't the South Korean president have advisors who are there to ensure visits go well?

Although personally I would never shake someones hand on an official function with one hand in my pocket, I'd find that rude, and i'm British!

But I do also agree with the post around us bending over backwards for multiculturalism... yes lets accept them into our country, but there is no need for us to bend over backwards to accomodate their culture, they should respect our culture as much as we would respect theirs when we visit their country...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe

" I remember a funeral passing through the square of small French town... and all bystanders took off their hats and looked respectful, except for one loudly dressed American family."

Everybody was wearing hats? Were you a victorian child?

Shame on the 'mericans for not changing the colour of their clothes as it went past though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe

"You sound like my parents, who take a box of tea bags with them whenever they go abroad."

Mine are the same. Even when they go to France they insist on taking their own shoes, because they like the shoes they have, and might want to wear them while they're out there. Instead of getting properly into the culture by wearing a french pair of shoes the whole time they're there. Weird, isn't it?

Anyway, got to run, need to go kimono shopping for my upcoming trip to Japan.

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Re: Maybe

{quote}

To people saying it's not offensive because Bill Gates is a foreigner, what would YOU say if Bill Gates walked up to the queen of England, slapped her round the face and said FUCK YOU. We need to be more careful.

{quote}

That only makes sense if Bill Gates genuinely wouldn't have known that to be offensive. Since that would be considered extremely offensive in America too, I think it's a particularly bad example.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe

I agree with the "when in Rome" attitude but it should work both ways, anyone from a different culture coming to this country should not try an impose their mores/culture upon us. However in the UK we have become so tolerant with the strange behaviour of immigrants that we have lost our own identity and sight of what it means to be British.

As to getting drunk, fighting and running naked and/or urinating through the streets, this is not only an "English disease", most cultures also know how to have a good time but ignore their own prudes rather than pay them undue attention.

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Re: Maybe

" A better comparison might be Bill Gates dining with the queen and not stopping eating when she does."

Damn, I didn't know that one either.

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WTF?

Re: Maybe

"Certainly in the UK, we have to break backs to accommodate foreign culture and its ways, whereas if we go to 99.9% of the countries from which we receive immigrants or asylum seekers"

Utter bollocks. I think you'll find most immigrants are happy enough to fit into our society, and avoid those parts of it they're not comfortable with. We certainly don't HAVE to break our backs to accomodate anyone, it's just accomodating others is a civilised thing to do.

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Re: Maybe

My knowledge of the history of the handshake is admittedly extremely limited but I had thought that (at least in it's modern incarnation,) the handshake was a Western greeting. It's a very peculiar situation we have here then, for a Westerner like Bill Gates to be lectured by the Korean press for incorrectly performing a greeting from his own culture.

As others have noted though, it's likely the only people kicking up a fuss are the Korean equivalent of the Daily Mail.

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Re: So?

If you are working with high voltage stuff keeping one hand in your pocket might save your life.

Subconsciously training yourself to do it is absolutely necessary.

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Anonymous Coward

if you read the Daily Mail, you think that women and immigrants cause cancer

women, immigrants, and anything that affects the Editor's status as chair of the Ignore Press Complaints Commission.

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@Lars G

"We in the West have to be tolerant in this age of multiculturalism and have to bend over backwards to accommodate every 'johnny foreigners' foibles."

Funny, on my only visit to Seoul, I was amazed at how friendly and accommodating the South Korean people were. My friend and I visited some hole in the wall restaurants and the owners went out of their way to help us, even though they spoke no English and we spoke no Korean.

The South Korean government even has instituted international cabs to bend over backwards and accommodate Johnny Foreigner-- these are specially licensed cabs whose drivers are required to be proficient in one or more foreign languages and are required by law to give the best rates to their customers.

Maybe you ought to take a peek out from under your bridge and visit some places. It's a big world out there, and many of the people in it are kind and worth knowing.

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Re: Maybe @Chris Wareham

I drink Twinings and I'm an American. Is that acceptable enough? If its good enough for the queen after all, or so the warrant says.

I can't vouch for the rest of us "foreigners" but its not 1960, you can get real tea here now. Though you won't get it in a restaurant. Even in coffee houses that have had theoretically good tea, I have had VERY terse discussions with the help about the difference between hot and boiling water.

Most restaurants end up having Lipton's or worse. Usually steeped in a glass of (sort of) hot water. And it tastes like hot water poured through a new broom. A lot of people I've known say they don't like tea, I have had to make it for them to change their opinion, because most of them have never HAD decent tea.

I used to work a night shift job and drank Twinings Irish Breakfast to keep me going all night, and when my co-workers wound come in in the morning I'd be brewing it and they would exclaim, "That smells great! What is that?" And I'd have to explain that it was tea, and they would be shocked. Again because to far too many of the people here, sadly, tea is either Lipton's in luke warm water, or a bag of various herbs containing no actual tea usually consumed by their new agey girlfriend in college.

I wish they still made Twinnings Queen Mary.........

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Re: Maybe

What would YOU say if Bill Gates walked up to the queen of England, slapped her round the face and said FUCK YOU.

I'm a staunch royalists and I'd laugh for a week.

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Re: Maybe

I take teabags with me too, because everyone else's are swill. But that's rather a different matter to not bother learning manners.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: He DOES feel superior

Chances are that he's wealthier.

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Pint

Re: Maybe

"anyone from a different culture coming to this country should not try an impose their mores/culture upon us. However in the UK we have become so tolerant with the strange behaviour of immigrants that we have lost our own identity and sight of what it means to be British."

I think you'll find that by definition, being British means moving here from somewhere else and then a generation later getting stuffy about people moving here and not respecting our ways.

Being British is about being multi-cultural. That's who we are. Ironically, it is the very people harping on about 'being British' and being arsey with other cultures who are the least British of all of us.

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Re: Maybe @psyx

"Surely someone should have said to him, when greeting in South Korea you should use both hands or something like that? doesn't the South Korean president have advisors who are there to ensure visits go well?"

Maybe they assumed that such a pivotal figure already had someone to tell HIM that, or already had manners?

To me it comes back to it being the visitor's role when visiting someone important in a formal setting to bother reading a guide to etiquette. It's not hard.

"they should respect our culture as much as we would respect theirs when we visit their country..."

I'm not about to let the manners or attitude of a person being rude affect my manners towards anyone else in the world, though. One can't say "It should be fine to not respect other people's customs because some people don't respect mine".

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Re: Maybe

No, not really. Bill Gates was just being a geek.

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Re: Maybe @Chris Wareham

Lipton's makes me embarrassed to be an American sometimes..

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Re: Maybe

I agree you respect the countries culture you are in.

I have also traveled in a few Asian countries where being a foreigner means that you are not as strictly bound by some of their social conventions than you would have been if you had grown up there, they expect you not to know because you are now Johnny foreigner.

This has included sitting and having chats and drinks with some guys and then being very surprised on a night out when local shopkeepers start bowing to them and showing far more respect than I have who was treating them as equals. Being outside of the culture does get you some leeway when abroad in some surprising ways sometimes.

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Re: Maybe @NomNomNom

Excessive use of hyperbole methinks

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Re: Maybe

Bull I know plenty of Brits who have made a good life abroad and live within the culture, and Americans and French and Germans etc. There's also plenty who are twats (and usually they tend not to stay long, or are on holiday and don't give a shit), nationality does not define the individual.

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Re: Maybe

Successful troll is successful

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@David Cantrell - Re: Maybe

Wrote :- "Yes, we do try to accomodate other peoples' cultures. That's ... why we, with the help of immigrants, do so much better than most other places, attracting the best, brightest, most driven .."

And you, no doubt priding yourself on being worldly, don't give any thought as to whether those other countries might have needed those "bright" (as you believe) people? But lets not mention also the scum who come here because things have become too hot for them back home, getting away from the moderating influence of parents and family, and importing their crime and their violent political and religious feuds.

And it depends on what you mean by doing "better". Perhaps you mean living in a place looking increasingly like an overcrowded airport lounge, sitting in traffic jams, and seeing what is left of our green spaces being rapidly concreted over to house everyone in ever more cramped living spaces.

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