The 2023 World Scout Jamboree has not been an easy ride so far, and the obstacles continue because of a typhoon headed toward Korea.
The World Scout Jamboree is the world’s largest youth camp that takes place every four years in different countries. The 25th World Scout Jamboree started on August 1 in Saemangeum, Korea, where about 43,000 young Scouts from 158 countries attended.
The event quickly went south when there were countless issues, including extreme heat, constant mosquito bites, lack of prior information about the event schedule, insufficient or spoiled foods, bathroom facilities, etc. The unbearable heat caused hundreds of kids to pass out and at least 400 kids to suffer from heatstrokes. Korean netizens were in uproar at how humiliated they were as the host country for the lack of preparation for the event, especially when the budget to plan the event was high. Many demanded an investigation to find out where the authorities of the event spent the budget they were given.
Because of these harsh conditions, the United States and the United Kingdom decided to leave for safety reasons. The U.K. was the biggest group to join the event, with 4,500 people, and they all relocated to cool hotel rooms in Seoul. Scout U.K. Chief Executive Matt Hyde said they decided to leave because of the safety of the children and the volunteers’. He said four areas of safety that concerned him: sanitation, food, heat, and medical services.
The first was that we were particularly concerned about sanitation and the cleanliness of toilets that were causing severe concerns from us from a health and safety point of view. In addition to that, we were worried about food and those with dietary requirements in particular, and the amount of food that was available. We were concerned also about the heat. It’s punishingly hot here in Korea; it’s an unprecedented heat wave. But we were concerned about the heat relief measures that were being put in place. And finally, we were concerned about medical services and those four areas gave us concerns about whether our young people and volunteers were safe. And that’s why we’ve relocated our Jamboree journey to Seoul.
— Matt Hyde
He stated that he already raised these concerns, but while there were some improvements, it wasn’t good enough. Matt Hyde admitted to being disappointed by the poor planning of the event.
We are disappointed in the organizers and the organization and we do feel let down, but the Jamboree journey continues for us.
— Matt Hyde
After the U.S. and U.K. attendees left for Seoul on August 7, the remaining attendees of the World Scout Jamboree relocated to Seoul due to the expected Typhoon Khanun that was headed to Korea. Khanun had already reached Japan, causing evacuations, power blackouts, and even two deaths. According to Korea’s weather agency, Khanun is expected to reach South Korea by Thursday morning, August 10, passing through Seoul with winds as strong as 118 to 154 kph (73 to 95 mph).
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol returned from his vacation one day early to oversee the typhoon response and the World Scout Jamboree situation. He announced a contingency plan for smooth transportation, accommodation, and cultural experience programs for the Scouts in Seoul.
According to Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang Min, more than 1,000 buses relocated the 36,000 children to Seoul, and four police helicopters and 273 patrol cars were mobilized for the safe transport of the attendees.
The attendees were scattered throughout 126 accommodations, such as college dorms or government and corporate training facilities across the country, including Seoul and surrounding regions. The attendees will remain in these areas until the event ends on August 12.
The Jamboree’s main event, the K-Pop concert, will be held in Seoul on August 11. The event gained controversy for trying to “steal” headliners from a music festival near Saemangeum, but because of the typhoon, the concert’s location has also changed to Seoul. Recently, it was announced that NewJeans would be joining the line-up.