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Bill Gates Offends South Koreans With Casual Handshake For President

24/04/2013 11:48 BST | Updated 24/04/2013 12:41 BST

During his time as Silicon Valley overlord, Bill Gates was noted for his relative informality - he probably wears ties more often now as one of the world's leading philanthropists - but that hasn't cut much ice with some in south Asia.

On a visit to South Korea, Gates met president Geun Hye Park with the customary, internationally-recognised form of greeting - a handshake - whilst neglecting to take his other hand out of his trouser pocket.

bill gates korea

Bill Gates's handshake was widely covered in South Korean newspapers

Cue South Korean outrage.

As a deeply Confucian society where etiquette is all-important, Gates' apparent bad form has been debated widely amongst politicians and in the media.

The Korea Herald reported that 'among Koreans, it is considered disrespectful to put one's hand in your pocket while shaking another person's hand'.

“Perhaps it was his all-American style but an open jacket with [one] hand in pocket? That was way too casual. It was very regretful,” said Chung Jin-suk, secretary general at the Korean National Assembly.

In fact, Gates already has form in this respect. When he met Ms Park's predecessor Lee Myung-Bak in 2008, he kept his other hand firmly in the pocket billiards position.

However, the president, who was meeting the former Microsoft boss to discuss technology initiatives, has played down the issue.

Her office released a statement which said: “Bill Gates took a similar pose for a picture when he met former President Lee Myung-bak five years ago. Just think of it as an American style of greeting."

So, can she expect a high five the next time Bill's passing through town?