Voices rise over swift disciplining of family minister Kim Hyun-sook for Jamboree fiasco

By Park Sae-jin Posted : August 11, 2023, 17:21 Updated : August 11, 2023, 17:21
SEOUL -- With only a day left of the official schedule of the 25th World Scout Jamboree, voices are rising in the political sector over the swift action that must be taken to hold people accountable for the fiasco that took place at the international Scouting event. Kim Hyun-sook, the family minister, is likely to be the first person who would have her head put on the political guillotine.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family was appointed as South Korea's main governing body of the World Scout Jamboree that was kicked off in Saemangeum, a reclaimed land area some 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Seoul, on August 1. However, Jamboree was de facto called off on August 7 after the global festival encountered unexpected challenges in which bare necessities -- food, water, electricity, sanitation facilities, drainage systems, and toilets -- were unprepared.
On August 7, the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), the international Scouting organization, decided to pull participants out from the Saemangeum area due to Typhoon Khanun which was creeping northwards from the Pacific Ocean to South Korea. Some 37,000 Jamboree participants were relocated to eight cities and provinces including Seoul and its surrounding cities.
The relocation process also caused a lot of problems. Among some contingents, young Scouts were separated from their guides and sent to different destinations. Contingents were split into small groups to be relocated to boarding houses and other accommodation facilities operated by universities, private companies, and government organizations. Luckily, local provincial and city governments welcomed stranded Scouts with open arms and offered localized cultural activity programs.  
While thousands of Scouts spent their time away from their original campsite, ruling party politicians sought the person accountable for the disaster that put hundreds of youngsters who were heat-stricken and exhausted to clinics and hospitals. Kim, the family minister, had her name put on the top of the list of the people who were the source of the problem by the ruling People's Power Party lawmakers.
As news about the Jamboree fiasco spread through the media, Kim was put under a barrage of public criticism for her attitude. Despite that she had several lawmakers continuously criticize and warn about the unpreparedness of the event through audits from a year ago, Kim showed confidence that was seen as blatant arrogance by claiming that everything was underway.
Through daily briefings in early August, Kim had boasted that the situation involving the early pull-out of Scouts from the Jamboree event is "a point in which South Korea could show off its counter-crisis capabilities to the world." As criticism over her attitude and work capabilities as a family minister increased, Kim stopped the daily Jamboree briefing on August 10 without any notice.
People's Power Party politician Ahn Cheol-soo claimed that "it is essential to conduct a thorough investigation and clearly establish accountability." The former presidential candidate also asserted that "the minister with the greatest responsibility must be removed from her position." Some political experts predict that Ahn's claims could be a build-up for Kim taking all responsibility for the Jamboree fiasco and resigning from her seat in the family ministry.
Kim Gi-hyun, the ruling party leader, also backed Ahn's claims by saying: "Once the Jamboree event is over, our party plans to carefully examine the issues within the family ministry, which was the supporting ministry of the global event."
기사 이미지 확대 보기