A ridiculous switchover

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A ridiculous switchover

In a shocking development, Pyongyang appeared in a video instead of Seoul — the host city of the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) Summit — on Sunday. The dumbfounding moment took place in the largest-ever international conference hosted by South Korea. Global audiences watched the mysterious video broadcast live on television and the internet.

More confounding is the nonchalant attitude of the Blue House as seen by an official who brushed off the episode, saying, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s Seoul or Pyongyang. Why is that a problem?” That’s a totally irresponsible comment by a Blue House official.

The video begins by introducing Seoul with beautiful images of Mount Namsan, palaces and the Han River and then zooms out from a satellite picture starting at Neungra Island in Pyongyang, eventually zooming out to show the Korean Peninsula and the whole globe. The video clip was designed to deliver the rest of the world the message that South Korea is taking a proactive role in leading an international campaign to address the global climate challenges and that Seoul is the center of the crusade.

The Blue House’s unfathomable reaction not only goes against the message the government wants to deliver, but also throws cold water on the achievements of the event. If the Blue House justifies the ridiculous switchover, does that mean the government doesn’t care if the Seoul Declaration is called the Pyongyang Declaration?

The incident should be thoroughly looked into as it goes beyond the level of a “simple mistake by an outside contractor.” The Blue House must have gone through many previews before the final rehearsal. Despite many Blue House staffers’ involvement in creating the video, the nonsensical image of the North Korean island was approved at the last minute. Conspiracy theorists raise strong suspicion that it did not result from a simple mistake but from an intentional editing to reflect the Moon Jae-in administration’s pro-North Korea tendencies.

The Foreign Ministry cannot avoid criticism, either. In a press briefing by Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong on the achievements of the P4G Summit, he requested journalists to not ask questions about the video. We lament at the foreign minister’s attempt to block reporters from delving into the fiasco.

The Foreign Ministry’s plan to reprimand its P4G planning team is not enough. No doubt Tak Hyun-min, Moon’s protocol secretary with unparalleled expertise in choreographing glitzy events, must have been involved in producing the video. The buck stops there in the Blue House. Who was the contractor for the suspicious video and if proper bidding procedures were followed must be clarified first. That’s the only way to avoid such a “laughing stock” in the future.
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