Tumultuous World Scout Jamboree comes to end with K-pop flair, apology

Despite frequent changes and troubles, around 40,000 participants gathered for the closing ceremony and for the “K-pop Super Live” concert that followed.

Hong Yoo

Hong Yoo

The Korea Herald


Closing ceremony of the 25th World Scout Jamboree held at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Aug 11, 2023. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF CULTURE, SPORTS AND TOURISM/THE KOREA HERALD

August 14, 2023

SEOUL – The 25th World Scout Jamboree, after a tumultuous 12-day run, came to an end Friday at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Despite the frequent changes and troubles that plagued the Jamboree, around 40,000 participants gathered in Seoul for the closing ceremony and for the “K-pop Super Live” concert that followed.

Around 2,500 police officers were present at the stadium to manage the crowd. Some 400 traffic police officers and 30 police cars were placed near the venue for traffic control, as well as 70 multilingual volunteers.

During the closing ceremony, Scout representatives of South Korea went up to the stage to hand over the Scout flag to representatives from Poland, the host country for the 26th World Scout Jamboree to be held in 2027.

Ahmad Alhendawi, secretary-general of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, acknowledged the difficulties the delegates faced in his farewell speech, but said he was proud of all that they had gone through.

“Fellow Scouts, what a couple of days for all of us. You adapted in front of all challenges. You impressed the world with your spirit and determination. You looked after each other,” Alhendawi said.

“I know that your dream for this Jamboree was a different one. No other event has faced this many challenges and extreme weather conditions. But also, no other Jamboree in history showed the determination, creativity, and resilience of you Scouts. You rose to challenges and turned this into a special experience.”

The closing ceremony was originally set to take place at the campsite in Saemangeum in North Jeolla Province, but was rescheduled to be held at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium due to concerns about accidents and heat-related illnesses. The venue changed once again when it was forecast Typhoon Khanun would hit the country Thursday.

The 25th jamboree faced criticism for its poor preparation and management in face of an intense heat wave and typhoon, resulting in some countries pulling out of the event early, before the evacuation order from Saemangeum was announced.

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duk-soo, in his closing speech, issued a sincere apology to the attendees.

“First of all, throughout the event, I am sorry that the Scouts suffered from the unprecedented heat wave and typhoon caused by climate change,” Han said.

Han recalled meeting many of the Scouts at the campsite and said he was touched by how they overcame difficulties and took care of one another “with extraordinary sense of responsibility and selflessness.”

“Your scouting spirit will become the foundation for solidarity and cooperation of the people around the world,” he said.

He added that he hoped the cultural experiences the Scouts had across Korea and the K-pop concert would “remain as beautiful memories.”

Despite a trying two weeks, many of the Scouts looked visibly excited for the K-pop concert, and welcomed the artists with a stadium wave through the stands.

A total of 19 K-pop artists including Mamamoo, NCT Dream, NewJeans, Itzy, the Boyz, Kang Daniel and fromis_9, performed at the concert.

The hosts of the night were actor Gong Myoung, Yuna of Itzy, and Hyein of NewJeans.

The concert kicked off with a powerful performance of the renowned dancing crew Holy Bang, followed by the Boyz with a performance of its latest single, “Lip Gloss,” from its second LP.

“Welcome to Korea! Hope you are having an absolute blast. Let’s have fun tonight. For the next song, you’ve got to get more energy going on. Make some noise. Our next song is ‘Thrill Ride,’” one member of the Boyz said.

Wearing raincoats and waving light sticks, the audience cheered as water sprayed into the stands, boosting the energy in the hyped up crowd.

NewJeans’ performances of “ETA” and “Hype Boy” had concertgoers singing along and dancing to the smash hits.

Beloved K-pop boy group NCT Dream brought the curtains down with their latest singles “Yogurt Shake” and “ISTJ.”

Scouts began to return to their homes after the concert, but the government said it has planned to provide additional support for those that hope to stay longer in the country.

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