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The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi Thursday ended his two-day visit to Seoul, but his non-face-to-face meeting with the president sparked controversy among South Koreans.

Pelosi is the first seated speaker to visit South Korea since Dennis Hastert visited Seoul in 2002. He met with his counterpart, Kim Jin-pyo, the president of the National Assembly, and agreed to support both governments’ efforts to achieve denuclearization and peace on the peninsula under a strong deterrent against North Korea.

However, public criticism has skyrocketed over South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who missed an in-person meeting with Pelosi due to his summer vacation in his nation’s capital, Seoul.

Despite his official visit to Seoul, the South Korean presidential office has given several responses to the meeting with Pelosi.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, addresses the media after meeting with South Korean National Assembly Rapporteur Kim Jin-pyo at the National Assembly on August 4, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Kim Min-Hee – Pool / Getty Images)

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The president’s office initially told reporters that the meeting between Yoon and Pelosi had not been arranged due to Yoon’s scheduled summer vacation. Then suddenly she said that she was coordinating with Pelosi’s office to arrange a meeting, but then again canceled the announcement, saying there was no coordination between the two offices.

Although Yoon remained at his home in Seoul, his office finally confirmed on Thursday that the two would have a phone call and not a face-to-face meeting. The phone call between the two lasted 40 minutes.

At the start of the trip, he met with leaders from Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan before arriving in Seoul. He is also expected to have a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

South Korea's new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, greets after the presidential inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on May 10, 2022.

South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, greets after the presidential inauguration in front of the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea on May 10, 2022.
(AP Photo / Lee Jin-man)

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Choi Young-bum, senior presidential secretary for public relations, said the decision not to have a meeting with Pelosi was made on the basis of “national interest”.

However, the official declined to answer reporters’ further questions about what “the national interest” referred to in this situation.

Adding to the controversy was when Pelosi’s delegation arrived at Osan Air Base Wednesday, where a photo showed the absence of Seoul officials welcoming her and the delegation on site.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, far right, speaks with South Korean National Assembly President Kim Jin-pyo, far left, during their meeting at the National Assembly on August 4, 2022 in Seoul, in South Korea.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, far right, speaks with South Korean National Assembly President Kim Jin-pyo, far left, during their meeting at the National Assembly on August 4, 2022 in Seoul, in South Korea.
(Kim Min-Hee – Pool / Getty Images)

Choi said Pelosi’s counterpart, the National Assembly speaker, would be the one who was supposed to hold a welcoming ceremony. He also said Pelosi’s office refused a ceremony as his delegation arrived late at night on Wednesday.

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Pelosi’s office has not yet released a statement on the controversy arising from the criticism of the South Korean president by many citizens present.

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