South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the Czech Republic Wednesday as part of his 3-nation tour before the G20 summit and met with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis to help South Korean businesses win a nuclear power plant construction deal there. On the same day, however, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs came under fire for incorrectly referring to the Czech Republic as "Czechoslovakia" on its official English Twitter account.
The country stopped using the name "Czechoslovakia" 25 years ago. Czechoslovakia was liberated with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. After the Communist bloc collapsed in 1993, the country was split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The mistake made by the South Korean Foreign Ministry can be compared to calling Republic of Korea the “Korean Empire.” Some Internet users wrote sarcastic comments under the post, by saying, “When did South Korea invent a time machine?” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deleted the posting an hour after it was uploaded.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to comment on the matter further, by saying, “It was a mistake made by our staff but we corrected it immediately.” It seemed they were trying to regard it as a small mistake made by one of its junior staff. Last year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made another mistake, hanging the national flag of Panama upside down at South Korea-Panama Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Seoul. A government official from Panama found that the flag was hung upside down and had it hung correctly. It is doubtful whether the Foreign Ministry clarified who is responsible for such a huge diplomatic gaffe.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Kang Kyung-wha has been incompetent and lethargic to the point that it has been left out of critical decisions made in the negotiations between North Korea and the U.S., and between the two Koreas. This is why referring to the Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia cannot be considered a mistake. A small discourtesy between countries can lead to an irreparable damage or a risk to the country. Even a small mistake should not be made in diplomacy. President Moon Jae-in decided to visit the Czech Republic this time to promote our technology and ask for their cooperation in South Korea’s bid to win the nuclear power plant construction deal. But the Foreign Ministry has disgraced the president by calling the country by a wrong name. This cannot be regarded as a simple mistake.