In a bid to revive a beleaguered scout jamboree, South Korea is gearing up for an immense K-pop extravaganza set to take place in Seoul on Friday. The nation is banking on “the power of Korean culture” to salvage an event that has been marred by difficulties and negative publicity.
While the government is injecting millions of dollars in emergency funds to rectify the challenges that have plagued the jamboree, criticism is mounting from K-pop enthusiasts and public sector workers alike. The ambitious world jamboree, which is held every four years, initially brought together 43,000 scouts in North Jeolla province. However, an unprecedented heatwave led to widespread illnesses, prompting the early departure of US and UK contingents due to dire campsite conditions. Ultimately, a tropical storm compelled a complete evacuation this week.
In the aftermath of these issues, the scouts were dispersed across the country and engaged in government-sponsored cultural tours. Despite this, the “K-pop Superlive” concert, headlined by prominent acts like NewJeans and The Boyz, aims to reunite all jamboree participants for a spectacular closing ceremony.
Seoul’s culture minister, Park Bo-goon, expressed that the concert would vividly spotlight the core essence and allure of K-culture through the performances of top-tier artists.
Nonetheless, criticism has emerged following the sudden cancellation of a popular TV music program that was slated to showcase some of the same acts now scheduled to perform at the Jamboree. Lawmaker Sung Il-jong received backlash from K-pop fans when he suggested that BTS, the globally acclaimed mega-group currently on hiatus due to mandatory military service, should reunite and perform for the jamboree.
According to reports from the Yonhap News Agency, approximately 1,000 public sector employees, including those from institutions like the Korea Development Bank and the Korea Electric Power Corporation, were “mobilized” to assist with the concert. This move drew ire, with the Korean Financial Industry Union condemning it as reminiscent of forced conscription during wartime, despite the term “request for cooperation” being employed.
The choice of venue, Seoul’s World Cup Stadium, has also sparked controversy due to the potential damage the concert stage might inflict on the costly “hybrid grass,” specifically designed for sporting events. “Idol fans are shedding tears as their favorites are being pulled out at the last minute. Football fans are also shedding tears as the expensive grass in the stadium is getting destroyed,” lamented a disgruntled individual on X in Korean.