Joe Biden was left surprised by Yoon Suk-yeol’s singing skills after the South Korean president took up the challenge to sing an age-old American anthem at the White House.
At the end of a state dinner on Wednesday, Mr Biden and first lady Jill Biden, along with Mr Yoon and his wife Kim Keon-hee, moved from the East Room to the State Dining Room where some entertainment was waiting for them.
Broadway stars Norm Lewis, Lea Salonga, and Jessica Vosk sang a handful of pieces, including selections from Les Miserables and Funny Girl after which the first lady announced a serenade of “American Pie”.
When the singers finished, Mr Biden and Mr Yoon took the stage and Mr Biden said: “We want to hear you sing it.”
“It’s been a while but…” hesitated Mr Yoon, who reportedly counts the song as one of his favourites.
The South Korean president then belted out one of the country’s most popular songs to huge cheers from the audience and Mr Biden.
As Mr Yoon finished singing, the crowd erupted into applause and a standing ovation for the South Korean president.
“I had no damn idea you could sing,” said Mr Biden and then presented his counterpart with a guitar signed by Don McLean, who wrote the song.
“The next state dinner we’re going to have, you’re looking at the entertainment,” Mr Biden told the crowd.
On social media, the South Korean president’s rendition of the song came in for lavish praise.
“If world leaders just competed in karaoke contests instead of on the battlefield, the world would be a way better place,” said one user.
Another wrote: “This is so wholesome.”
“This is just one example of how delightful South Korea and its people are,” tweeted another user.
“Random but I love how music crosses cultural barriers,” one comment read.
This is not the first time Mr Yoon has sung publicly.
AFP reported that on his campaign trail in 2021, he appeared on the famous South Korean TV show All the Butlers and wowed its celebrity hosts with a sparkling cover of K-pop ballad “No one else” by Lee Seung-chul.
The state visit by Mr Yoon led to the announcement that the US would send a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine for the first time in 30 years to counter North Korea.
Mr Biden warned that “a nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable, and will result in the end of whatever regime were to take such an action”.