Well, it turns out South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol can sing. At the end of a festive dinner at The White House on Wednesday, President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, President Yoon, and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, moved from the East Room to the State Dining Room for the entertainment part of the evening, a string of professionally performed Broadway musical numbers.
After Broadway stars sang a handful of soaring pieces, Jill Biden announced a special encore: a serenade by the singers of the Don McLean anthem “American Pie,” which is a Yoon favorite. It didn’t end there. When the singers finished, President Biden and President Yoon took the stage and Biden invited Yoon, because of his love of the song, to give it a whirl himself.
Yoon did just that, taking a mic and belting out the first stanzas of the song, in English and in tune, while an astounded Biden and a delighted crowd, including actor Angelina Jolie, looked on.
“Something touched me deep inside, the day the music died,” he finished, sparking a standing ovation and loud applause from the audience and the Broadway singers, who were still on stage.
“I am honored that The White House had invited me to be at the event, however, I am in Australia on tour and could not be in two places at once,” says American Pie’s singer/songwriter Don McLean. “What a moment last night was, as I watched the video clips. I wish I could have been there, but there always is a next time. I hope President Yoon learns how to play the guitar that I signed so when we meet, in the future, we can do the song together!”
Biden told Yoon he had “no damn idea” he could sing, and then presented him with a Gibson guitar signed by Don McLean, who wrote the song.