Duterte slurs haunt ex-US envoy Goldberg as he gets South Korea assignment

July 22, 2022 - 11:03 AM
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Composite photo of Philip Goldberg and former President Rodrigo Duterte (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool via Reuters)(PCOO)

A freelance reporter from Seoul speculated that the negative reputation of a new ambassador to Korea stemmed from an old insult made by former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Raphael Rashid, a Seoul-based freelance journalist, recalled this in a Twitter thread about why some Koreans strongly opposed Philip Goldberg as the new US ambassador to Korea.

In one of his tweets, Rashid shared that a Korean newspaper ran an article that described Goldberg as a member of the LGBTQ community despite him not announcing anything in the first place.

“On June 27, Maeil Business ran an article *claiming* the ‘self-identifying’ ‘homosexual US ambassador’ was coming to Korea with his ‘same-sex partner’. When I saw the article I was surprised because I had never seen such news before, or evidence of it,” the reporter said.

Rashid then perceived that this image might have come from the homophobic slurs that Duterte threw at Goldberg way back in 2016.

Goldberg was then the US envoy to the Philippines. He left his post in October of the same year.

“It turns out in 2016, while serving as US ambassador to the Philippines, Duterte called him a ‘gay son of a whore’ to criticize him. The disgusting comments made instant headlines, and the damage was done,” Rashid said.

The former chief executive is known for launching tirades and slurs. Duterte’s remarks are also being reported in the international community.

Duterte threw a homophobic slur against Goldberg in a national address in August of that year, sparking a diplomatic row.

“As you know, I’m fighting with (former US Secretary of State John Kerry) ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pissed me off,” the former president was quoted in a report as saying.

Washington immediately summoned then-Philippine Charge d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto to explain the comments.

Rashid recalled that Goldberg himself did not address Duterte’s insults against him even after he left his post.

The tweet was accompanied by a video report about it.

Damage of unverified information

Since that incident, Goldberg never had any public statements about his sexual orientation.

Rashid also said that he found no strong proof or hint that Goldberg was an LGBT member.

Some conservative Koreans, however, still depicted the diplomat as such.

He said that they staged a protest against his arrival in South Korea in front of the US Embassy in Seoul on July 8, 2022.

Rashid shared a photo of these protesters in his Twitter thread.

“They protested outside the US Embassy against the new US ambassador and the US policy of ‘homosexual imperialism’,” he tweeted.

Yonhap News Agency, a major news organization in South Korea, also reported a photo of a protester who was objecting to Goldberg’s assignment to the country on July 11.

What made it worse was Goldberg’s attendance at the previous Pride March in Seoul, Korea, the first parade in three years, according to Rashid.

“When it was announced he’d be speaking on stage at Seoul Pride, it further added to the narrative that he was the ‘LGBTQ envoy’ sent by Biden (US President Joe Biden) to spread the gay agenda in South Korea. Media claimed it was his “first” public appearance when in fact it wasn’t,” Rashid said.

Goldberg’s attendance at this event called the “Seoul Queer Culture Festival” was to represent the US’ show of support to the LGBT community in South Korea.

Reactions from Filipinos

Some Filipinos who saw Rashid’s tweet expressed dismay and frustration over the chain of events.

“Why am I not surprised that Duterte’s idiotic big mouth and unhinged rants would lead to something like this,” one Twitter user said.

“Embarrassingly relevant thread on how reporting a lying politician’s words, as is, has far-reaching consequences,” sociology instructor Ash Presto said.