Depending on whom you ask, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's awkward kiss was simply a harmless little joke or blatant sexual harassment.
Duterte was speaking at an event for Philippine workers in Seoul. At one point, he invited two young women up to the stage to receive free copies of a book.
He hugged the first woman and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Then he turned his attention to Bea Kim, gesturing for a kiss on the lips.
When Kim demurred, he asked whether she was single. She said no, adding that she was married to a Korean man.
“You're not separated from him?” Duterte asked. “But can you tell him that this is just a joke?”
Kim laughed and smiled, appearing to give the president permission to sneak a peck.
He leaned in and kissed her on the mouth. As Kim squealed and wiggled away, the crowd of about 3,000 cheered.
Afterward, Kim told the Philippine News Agency that she saw “no malice” in the incident. It didn't “mean anything except to entertain and make other Filipinos in the gathering happy,” she said, according to the PNA.
Others criticized Duterte's behavior, calling it inappropriate and misogynistic. In a statement, the women's rights group Gabriela called it “disgusting theatrics” by a “misogynist president.”
A Philippine senator, Risa Hontiveros, said in a statement that it was “a despicable display of sexism and grave abuse of authority.”
“Even if the act was consensual, it was the president, possessed of awesome, even intimidating power, who initiated it,” Hontiveros said, according to the New York Times. “It was not a meeting of two consenting individuals on equal terms.”
It was not the first time that Duterte has been accused of misogyny.
In 2016, he made light of the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary. Duterte had been the mayor of the city where she was killed; he joked that he should have been “first” in line.
“I saw her face and I thought, 'What a pity,' " he said. “They raped her, they all lined up. I was mad she was raped, but she was so beautiful. I thought, the mayor should have been first.” Duterte later apologized for the comments, then retracted his apology.
In May 2017, Duterte told a group of soldiers on the southern island of Mindanao, where he had just imposed martial law, that they were each allowed to rape up to three women. He later said it was a joke. Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte was using “heightened bravado” to offer “his full support to the men and women in uniform.”
In February, he ordered his troops to shoot female rebels “in the vagina.” Women are “useless” without their vaginas, he said.