Awkward moments of world leaders captured on camera. Photo: Youtube
Awkward moments of world leaders captured on camera. Photo: Youtube

A video of the awkward moment when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte kissed a Filipino woman on the lips at a function in Seoul went viral this week. The 73-year-old asked for a kiss from the unidentified woman in exchange for a book he was handing out. After a slight hesitation, she returned the kiss – and sent the internet into a frenzy.

Duterte is far from being the only world leader to have had an awkward moment in public. Here are seven more that spring readily to mind:

1. Donald Trump

Photo: Yahoo
Photo: Yahoo

Speaking of awkward moments, US President Trump has had his fair share. During a group photo of world leaders at the 2016 Nato summit in Warsaw, Poland, Trump pushed away Montenegro’s prime minister, Dusko Markovic, to make his way to the front row, then chatted with the leaders next to him as if nothing had happened, said Yahoo News.

Another incident that stirred up social media occurred when Donald Trump paused in the middle of a lengthy speech to take a sip of water. The GIF of him holding the bottle with both hands while drinking went viral.

The time Donald Trump brushed 'dandruff' from the French President's suit

Photo: Business Insider
Photo: Business Insider

The pair were involved in a couple of bizarre handshakes that made headlines in 2017, one for its sheer intensity (their knuckles turned white and their jaws were clenched, according to reporters) and one for its unusual length (they held onto one another for a whole 29 seconds). Macron later admitted that his intense handshake with Trump was a power play. "It wasn't innocent," he told Le Journal du Dimanche (via The Guardian). "It's not the be-all and the end-all of a policy, but it was a moment of truth."

When Trump hosted Macron at the White House the following year, he appeared to get his own back. In a move that The New Yorker described as "a primate dominance display," the US President removed a speck of "dandruff" from the jacket of his counterpart, in front of reporters and rolling cameras. Macron laughed it off, but the awkward exchange caused a stir on Twitter.

2. Barack Obama

Photo: Business Insider
Photo: Business Insider

The then US president, Barack Obama, faced an awkward moment during a major policy speech in 2016 at the National Defence University in Washington when an activist appeared, shouting questions. Obama attempted to ignore the interruption and, when that didn’t work, to shut the activist up, but the woman, Medea Benjamin, continued to interrupt his speech.

3. Theresa May

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

The British prime minister had an embarrassing moment on her first day as a leader when she walked out of the famous black door of No. 10 Downing Street with the press in front of the residence recording the moment. Without hesitation, she walked towards an official car, before realizing it was the wrong one. She paused, turned to the press, smiled, waved, and walked in the opposite direction to take her seat in the prime ministerial limousine.

4. Angela Merkel

Photo: Politico EU
Photo: Politico EU

Merkel had her moment welcoming Nato leaders on the red carpet during a 2009 Nato summit in Kehl, Germany. When she was about to offer her greeting to the then Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, he walked off in the opposite direction, leaving Merkel standing alone, red-faced on the red carpet. The German chancellor had to wait for him while he took a phone call – not good manners.

Merkel laughing

One of the few world leaders to have a pretty good 2014 was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who became the longest-serving head of government in the European Union and was called the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. And, despite the somewhat dour portrait of her painted by a lengthy New Yorker profile, she evidently had reason to laugh.

Read more: Watch Video: President Biden Trips 3 Times in a row while Walking up Stairs of Air Force One

5. Vladimir Putin

Photo: The Telegraph
Photo: The Telegraph

When Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were at a trade fair in Hanover, Germany, they were confronted by a topless female protester who had some rather unpleasant words painted on her back. While Merkel chose to ignore the awkward scene and kept going, Putin found it amusing and later responded: “Regarding this performance, I liked it.”

6. Joe Biden

During a 2019 Democratic debate, Joe Biden was asked about inequality in schools, race, and how he would "repair the legacy of slavery in our country" (via The New York Times). Biden's admittedly rambling answer, which included a reference to his deceased first wife and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, seemed to confuse and worry his fellow candidates on the stage. However, it was his comments about how we need to "help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home" that left people shaking their heads.

"We bring social workers into some and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they don't want to help, they don't know what — they don't know quite what to do," Biden said. "Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player — on at night, make sure that kids hear words."

Photo: The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian

Backstage after the debate, candidate Cory Booker questioned Biden's mental faculties when pressed by CNN's Erin Burnett (via Fox News). "I think there were a lot of moments where a number of us were looking on the stage when he tends to go on sometimes," Booker responded. "At one point, he was talking about communities like mine listening to record players. I don't remember the last time I saw a record player ... But there are definitely moments where you listen to Joe Biden and you just wonder."

Joe Biden told an immigration activist to vote for Trump

During a 2019 campaign stop in South Carolina, Joe Biden got into a heated exchange with immigration activist and CNN reporter Carlos Rojas over the Obama administration's record deportations, said Nicki Swift.

Rojas confronted Biden over the federal government's response to immigration during his time as VP, stating, "The fact is that over those eight years, there were 3 million people that were deported and separated from their families," in a video posted by USA Today. Biden then immediately cut him off, replying, "You should vote for Trump. You should vote for Trump." Wait, what?

"No, no. I'm not going to do that," Rojas responded. Biden then replied, "No matter what happens, somebody who commits murder should be deported," before stating that there would be no family separation during his presidency. Some audience members shouted, "That's a lie," and the crowd began chanting, "Not one more deportation." Perhaps unsurprisingly, Biden underperformed with Latinos during his general election fight over a year later.

Biden tumbled three times on steps of Air Force One

Seven times world leaders’ awkward moments captured on cameras

The US president managed to fall not once, not twice but three times on his way up a staircase to the Air Force One presidential aircraft on Friday.

A White House spokesperson blamed windy weather.

7. Kim Jong Un

Photo: WSJ
Photo: WSJ

For the first part of the year, the North Korean leader was up to his usual tricks: Visiting lubrication factories or riding in antique submarines, for example. Then, as summer came to an end, something weird happened. Kim disappeared from public view. Wild theories began to spring up, including but not limited to some kind of coup or a cheese addiction. It was an international mystery, according to Washington Post.

Soon, however, he reappeared, better than ever. And with a propaganda photograph of him touring an orphanage, he was back to his bizarre ways.

Kim's bizarre disappearance and return was, yet again, another sign of just how little we know about North Korea. And with Wednesday's announcement that the U.S. government believes Pyongyang was behind a hack on Sony Pictures with dramatic consequences, that may be a problem.

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