Bill Gates' Handshake with South Korean President Park Geun-hye Causes Internet Firestorm

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A casual handshake by Microsoft founder Bill Gates has created a wave of public opinion following a business meeting in South Korea earlier this week.

On Monday, the American business magnate was in South Korea to “build business ties and boost nuclear energy plans,” when he breached the country’s social etiquette during a handshake with South Korean President Park Geyn-hye. How, exactly? By leaving his left hand in his pocket.

“Among Koreans, it is considered disrespectful to put one’s hand in your pocket while shaking another person’s hand,” according to the Korea Herald, which published a separate piece on the incident.

This isn’t the first time Gates has committed the social miscue while on international visits. An blog states the programmer also kept his left hand embedded in his pocket during handshakes with former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy, and current French President Francois Hollande.

Fortunately for Gates the incident wasn’t a deal-breaker.

As the Korea Herald noted, “It is unlikely that the handshake is to become a diplomatic issue, as the president’s office reportedly was unconcerned about Gates' handshake regardless of the heated discussion online.”

Sources:, NPR, Korea Herald