During the White House briefing on coronavirus, President Donald Trump was drawn into a discussion of South Korea, which reported its first coronavirus case at the same time as the United States but has been vastly more successful at controlling the spread of the disease.
In an attempt to make himself appear knowledgeable, Trump rattled off a statistic he “knows” about South Korea: that the capital city, Seoul, is home to 38 million people. Except…that’s incorrect.
Trump asks a reporter what the population of Seoul, South Korea, is.
“I know South Korea better than anybody,” he says. “You know how many people are in Seoul?”
“38 million,” he says.
It’s about 10 million.
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 30, 2020
It is unclear where Trump got the figure of 38 million people. But one user on Twitter offered an intriguing theory: He may have previously run a Google search and mistakenly confused Wikipedia’s entry for Seoul’s elevation — 38 m, or meters — with 38 million people.
Trump just said Seoul has “38 million people” in it. That’s such an oddly wrong and yet specific number, I did a google search for Seoul. pic.twitter.com/iuK0g6iBSo
— Adam Bates (@AdamTaylorBates) March 30, 2020
Regardless, if Trump’s reply was meant to persuade Americans that he was informed about foreign countries and the spread of coronavirus, this is unlikely to do so.