Overreaching presidential promotionMistakes are repeated by Blue House protocol and communication staffers again and again. Each time, the presidential office says such mistakes were just made by working-level officials. But the mighty office must know that such blunders have been recurring due to inevitable reasons.
Relaying President Moon Jae-in and the first lady’s visit to a religious facility in Austria earlier this week, the Blue House posted the German national flag emoji on its Facebook page. After the blunder went viral, the Blue House hurriedly fixed the error and attributed it to a simple “mistake by a night-shift staffer” at the Blue House. For Austria, which welcomed President Moon’s state visit, the episode must have been felt utterly displeasing. When Moon visited the Czech Republic in November 2018, the Blue House nonchalantly described the country as Czechoslovakia, which separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
More worrisome is the Blue House’s arbitrary editing of the group photo of G7 leaders in Britain last week and posting it on Facebook. Such nonsensical editing of a picture of heads of state not only goes against diplomatic norms but also constitutes a case of sheer discourtesy. The title of the edited photo was “Korea’s stature seen in one photo.” A senior communications officer at the Blue House went a step further and said, “President Moon’s position is Korea’s position.” In the revised photo, Moon appeared closer to the center after — probably intentionally — cropping out South Africa’s president who stood on the far left.
Also in the same photo, only President Moon did not wear a tie among the 11 leaders who gathered there. Despite the need to show a more vigorous image of the president, that could be seen as diplomatic discourtesy. In the opening video at the virtual P4G summit in Seoul last month, Pyongyang appeared instead of Seoul. The Blue House rebutted, “What’s wrong with that?”
Such repeated gaffes could reflect the Blue House’s priority on promoting the president’s activities at home and abroad instead of telling the facts and taking precautions not to make any protocol mistakes. That is certainly related to Moon’s hiring of experts in public relations and staging glitzy events. If Moon wants to have such PR masters around him to praise his achievements, diplomatic fumbles — whether intentional or accidental — will be repeated over and over.