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Uncovered negligence in Jamboree preparations

Posted August. 09, 2023 08:20,   

Updated August. 09, 2023 08:20


Amid early departures from the World Scout Jamboree 2023, evidence continues to surface, pointing to delayed preparations by government bodies and agencies. Korea had been selected as the host country six years prior and budgets were consistently increased. However, construction commenced shortly before the event, and allocated funds remained untouched for a significant period. This negligence and complacency have turned a valuable international opportunity into a national embarrassment.

The Dong-A Ilbo's investigation into Jamboree-related orders reveals delayed infrastructure projects, including waterworks and drainage, which began in November 2021. The Pre-Jamboree event, meant to verify event safety, was scheduled for August 2022, which suggests the required construction was initiated just nine months before. The government cited COVID-19 for canceling the Pre-Jamboree, but it appears to have masked unpreparedness. Shower and water stand setup began as late as March 2023, with completion at only 43-67% of the original plan due to delayed orders. The organizing committee ignored contractor concerns about negligence risks, later seeking help due to flooding. They emphasized holding out for the twelve-day event to save hundreds of public servant jobs, seemingly aiming to salvage their reputation.

Initially allocated at 49.1 billion won, the business expenses soared to over 100 billion won, yet the requested funds remained untouched, prompting the National Assembly's three warnings. In 2021, the Assembly pointed out that a mere 57.4% of the Jamboree program subsidy was utilized. By November 2022, delayed infrastructure preparations drew criticism with the event only less than a year away. The North Jeolla Provincial government, responsible for Jamboree operations, utilized only 58% of its allocated 2022 budget. While substantial funds were secured for indirect operations like Seamangeum International Airport and new Saemangeum Port, essential Jamboree programs faced significant unpreparedness.

"This is the first time in more than 100 years of World Scout Jamborees that we have had to face such compounded challenges," stated the Secretary General of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. While a heat wave and imminent typhoon were cited as reasons for confusion, the underlying issue appears to be unpreparedness and mismanagement by the organizing committee. To address this, strict accountability is needed over government bodies and provincial governments through thorough scrutiny of budget execution and program outcomes. Ensuring the safety of participants from some 150 countries is also paramount as they are currently engaging in Jamboree activities in eight different cities and provinces, having left the Saemangeum camp.