Rodrigo Duterte

Not just Duterte: five other world leaders have awkward moments that went viral online

Philippine president’s impromptu action on a stage in Seoul set the internet alight, but he’s not the only world leader to have been caught on camera or video behaving unexpectedly. There’s Putin, May, Berlusconi … and Trump

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 12:25pm

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 five more that spring readily to mind:

1. Vladimir Putin

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.”

2. Donald Trump 

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.

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.

3. Barack Obama

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.


4. Theresa May

The British prime minister had an embarrassing moment on her first day as 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 realising 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.

5. Angela Merkel

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.