Why football fans were outraged by the ‘bombing’ jamboree concert

The 25th World Scout Jamboree, which was marred by controversy over its rushed management and disruption, ended with a closing ceremony and K-pop super live concert on the 11th.

Although the event barely came to an end after a series of twists and turns, the aftermath of this incident is not light, as it exposed the inherent complacency and desk-based administration of Korean society. And the backward way in which ‘politics and administration’ were blamed for the mistakes and ‘sports and pop culture’ were used to clean up the mess leaves an even more bitter aftertaste.

스포츠토토 The government and the Jamboree organising committee had originally planned to hold a K-pop concert and closing ceremony around the campsite, but decided to change the date and venue due to safety concerns, including the heat wave. Faced with the sudden change and the lack of space to accommodate such a large number of people, the organisers turned to a football field as a last resort.

The organisers chose the Jeonju World Cup Stadium, which is adjacent to the venue, but due to the impact of Typhoon Kanun, the venue was changed once again to the Sangam World Cup Stadium in Seoul. It was the K League and football fans who suffered the most from this unpredictable ‘bombshell’.

On the 9th, Jeonbuk’s FA Cup quarter-final against Incheon at Jeonju World Cup Stadium was cancelled. The final venue was then moved to Seoul for a second time, but the disruption to the already disjointed schedule was inevitable. Above all, the unilateral announcement by the government and local authorities without prior consultation with Jeonbuk defied common sense. “I can’t believe it,” said Jeonbuk coach Dan Petrescu, a Romanian. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life,” he said in disbelief and anger.

The entire cast performs the finale of the ‘2023 Saemangeum World Scouting Jamboree K-Pop Super Live Concert’ at Sangam World Cup Stadium in Mapo-gu, Seoul, on the afternoon of the 11th.
Photo courtesy of the Samman Foundation

FC Seoul was not immune to the loss of the Sangam World Cup Stadium. Large-scale stages and seats were set up for the K-pop concert and the closing ceremony, causing damage to the grass. The condition of the turf was a sensitive issue as it affected the progress of the game and whether or not players were injured.

Sangam is a major venue for Korean football, often hosting A-matches, but has been criticised by national players for poor turf maintenance. This year, the Seoul Facilities Management Corporation had invested KRW1 billion in a new hybrid turf, but the unexpected jamboree wiped out all the hard work.

The government explained that it was careful to set up the stage to minimise damage to the grass. They also promised to restore it as soon as possible after the event so that football matches could be played. However, football fans have reacted with disdain, calling it “sickening and drugging.” Many football fans are calling for the government to be held accountable for the disruption of the jamboree and for “imposing unilateral sacrifices under the guise of co-operation.

The mobilisation of K-pop and idol stars as ‘relief pitchers’ for a national event that has virtually failed is also seen as backward. The K-pop concert, which was hastily organised and promoted by the so-called “higher powers” to mask the incompetence of the government and local authorities, was so far-fetched that it was lucky it didn’t cause an accident.

While the stage was being set up for the K-pop concert, a typhoon was passing over the Korean Peninsula. Experts pointed out that large-scale concerts of 30,000 to 40,000 people require a long preparation period, and sensitive outdoor performances need to be prepared for even more variables. However, the workers on site at the time were forced to take safety risks to set up the stage under tight time constraints and adverse weather conditions.

The artists involved in the show were equally frustrated by the rushed schedule. There was not enough time to prepare a complete stage, and rehearsal conditions were reportedly poor due to the typhoon’s impact, with rain continuing to fall until the day of the performance.

In addition, the government and its officials have come under fire for the controversial practice of “forced mobilisation” under the guise of voluntary participation in the process of recruiting artists for the K-pop concert. One lawmaker, Sung Il-jong of the National Assembly, even suggested that BTS, which is serving in the military, be invited to perform at the jamboree concert, which backfired on fans who said, “Why should K-pop stars take over a jamboree that’s going nowhere?”

Fortunately, despite the chaotic atmosphere and poor conditions, K-pop artists such as NUJINS, ITZY, The Boys, and I.V. were upbeat and gave their best performances. BTS, who were at the centre of the controversy, did not participate but were supported by their agency with a free set of photocards. Thanks to the artists’ efforts and the audience’s enthusiastic response, the concert was successfully completed without any major incidents. This proved once again the status of K-pop, which has been recognised for its competitiveness based on the experience and know-how accumulated over the years on the world stage.

ITZY performs at the ‘2023 Saemangeum World Scout Jamboree K-Pop Super Live Concert’ at Sangam World Cup Stadium in Mapo-gu, Seoul on the afternoon of the 11th.
Photo courtesy of the Samman Foundation

However, the success of the concert was a separate issue from the jamboree itself, and the brand image that K-pop has built up over the years, as well as the dedication and sacrifice of the labourers and artists who struggled on the ground, have made the worst of a bad situation into the best of times. This is by no means an exoneration of all the processes and mistakes that went into the jamboree.

It is difficult to overturn the assessment that the Jamboree was a ‘failed event’ apart from the K-pop concert. It was an event that brought together people from all over the world, took six years of preparation and a huge budget to organise, and yet it was a mess, with feverish patients, outdated and unreliable facilities, a lack of professional staff from planning to execution, and a lack of a responsible control tower. In the end, some participating countries had to leave early, and the humiliation of becoming a “worldwide international embarrassment” was inevitable as the event became the focus of foreign media attention due to poor preparation.

What is even sadder is that in the process of cleaning up the mess, there is still a cavalier attitude of the political establishment, which, in the name of “national and international interests,” seems to view sports and popular culture as subcontractors or expendables for political clean-up.

In the process, they showed no common sense, no communication, and no respect for the sports and pop culture communities that were forced to make unilateral sacrifices. As long as there is a perception in the political circles that they can take away football stadiums to hold concerts and mobilise BTS and other artists at any time like a control event, we should not forget that this pathetic situation can be repeated at any time.
Article provided by Oh My News

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