August 17, 2023
SEOUL – A blame game is brewing over the World Scout Jamboree, as Korea’s state auditor said it would look into how the event was organized from the day Korea was announced as the host country.
“The inspection will look into the entire event, from the bidding stage to the planning process to the actual operation until the last day. All of the concerned parties, including central and municipal governments, will be subject to inspection,” an official at the Board of Audit and Inspection said Wednesday.
Before the extreme weather forced an early closure last week, the gathering of some 40,000 scouts was already troubled by poor hygiene and other organizational mishaps.
Yoon’s predecessor, former President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, apologized on behalf of the incumbent administration for a “disappointing” jamboree in a statement on Monday.
“To everyone who had been let down — the Scouts around the world, the people of Jeolla Province — as the president in office when Korea became the host, I apologize and offer my heartfelt condolences,” he said.
The former president said the jamboree cost Korea its pride and left Koreans in shame. He said that the hopes of Jeolla people in particular, who “made every effort to host the event in their province,” were dashed.
The plenary session of the National Assembly’s interior committee, convened to look into the troubled jamboree, ended in dispute Wednesday.
The ruling People Power Party asked that the governor of North Jeolla Province respond to questions from the Assembly while the opposition Democratic Party of Korea maintained that the primary responsibility lies with the administration in power. No senior official from the Jeolla municipal office and the Ministry of Interior and Safety attended the plenary session, despite Assembly requests.
North Jeolla’s governor, Kim Kwan-young, in a press conference Monday blamed social media for reports of poor conditions such as unsanitary toilets suffered by jamboree participants. He claimed that the scouts from the UK likely “exaggerated the toilet problems” to justify their pulling out of the event earlier than other teams.
Leaders of both parties agree that some form of investigation, including one conducted by the Assembly, is necessary so that accountability is kept.
“The Moon administration wasted five of the six years of the preparations for the jamboree,” Rep. Yun Jae-ok told a party leadership meeting, arguing that the preceding administration was “not one to place blame.”
“Accountability needs to be taken in the mismanagement of a global event,” he said.
Rep. Park Kwang-on, the Democratic Party floor leader, said Moon had to issue an apology while “all those in positions of responsibility are busy finger-pointing.”
“All these blame games before the young people from all over the world, is what is truly embarrassing,” he said.