South Korean president sings American Pie at state dinner with Biden

From discussing nuclear war to belting out a beloved hit: South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol’s White House visit ended on a high note when he sang Don McLean’s American Pie to great applause.

Yoon is on a six-day state visit to Washington, where he discussed with Joe Biden “the end” of any North Korean regime that used nuclear weapons against the allies.

But the two leaders had more cheerful topics on the agenda at the White House state dinner in Yoon’s honour on Wednesday, with the South Korean leader – who is known at home to be something of a karaoke buff – sharing his love of American music.

“We know this is one of your favourite songs, American Pie,” Biden said to Yoon, having pulled him up on to the stage at the end of the evening to listen to singers perform the classic.

“Yes, that’s true,” the 62-year-old Yoon said, saying he had loved the song, released in 1971, since he was at school.

“We want to hear you sing it,” said Biden.

“It’s been a while, but …” Yoon responded, offering only token resistance as he took the microphone.

Yoon belted out the first few lines of the song a cappella, triggering rapturous applause from the crowd and delighting Biden and first lady Jill Biden.

“The next state dinner we’re going to have, you’re looking at the entertainment,” Biden told the crowd, referring to Yoon.

Then he turned to the South Korean president and said: “I had no damn idea you could sing.”

Biden told Yoon that McLean could not be at the White House to join them but had sent a signed guitar, which the US president gifted to the South Korean leader.

It is not Yoon’s first time singing in public.

On the campaign trail in 2021, he appeared on the famous South Korean TV show All the Butlers, wowing its celebrity hosts with a sparkling rendition of the K-pop ballad No One Else, by Lee Seung-chul.