President Biden on Friday mistakenly called South Korean President Moon Jae-in a “prime minister” — one day after also botching the title of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden delivered the latest eyebrow-raising remark while presenting 94-year-old Korean War veteran Ralph Puckett with the Medal of Honor.
“The people in the Republic of Korea haven’t forgotten, as evidenced by the fact that the prime minister of Korea is here for this ceremony,” Biden told Puckett.
On Thursday night, Biden referred to Netanyahu as “President Netanyahu” while delivering a speech celebrating an Israel-Hamas cease-fire.
The Friday awards ceremony featured Biden and Moon headlining an unmasked and non-socially distanced celebration in the White House East Room.
Moon lauded Puckett’s work fighting off Communists during the battle for Hill 205 in 1950.
In a remarkable break from COVID-19 pandemic practices, the event featured hugs and handshakes — contrasting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s policy of still requiring masks at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, despite widespread vaccination.
Biden and Moon kneeled on either side of Puckett for a photo with his family.
“Earlier, Col. Puckett told me that when he was in Korea during the Korean War, it was absolutely destroyed. That was true,” Moon said. “But from the ashes of the Korean War, we rose, we came back. And that was thanks to the Korean War veterans who fought for Korea’s peace and freedom. And right now, thanks to their support and efforts, we are enjoying prosperity.”
Moon said he was told he’s the first foreign leader to attend a ceremony presenting the top US military honor.
Biden said at the event that Puckett initially rebuffed the offer of an award ceremony.
“I understand that your first response to us hosting this event was to ask, ‘Why all the fuss, why the fuss, can’t they just mail it to me?’” Biden said.
The president joked: “I was gonna make a joke about the post office, but I decided not to do that.”
The medal presentation served as a soft opening to Biden’s talks with Moon, who is his second foreign visitor as president. Vice President Kamala Harris welcomed Moon to the White House grounds Friday morning.