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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

South Korea tells scouts to leave world jamboree site as typhoon nears

By Jin Yu Young

After several setbacks at the World Scout Jamboree, the South Korea-hosted event faces yet another hurdle: As Typhoon Khanun makes its way to the nation’s coast this week, the participants will be leaving the campsite early.

On Monday, the South Korean government informed the world Scout body that “an early departure will be planned for all participants at the 25th World Scout Jamboree from the campsite in Samangeum.” The scouts plan to move out of the site, which lies on a reclaimed wetland on the southwest coast of the peninsula, on Tuesday.

The Scout authority cited an incoming typhoon as the primary reason for the premature departure. The host of the event, the Korea Scout Association, also listed “ongoing weather conditions” in a statement as the reason behind the early departure from the event’s main campsite.

Typhoon Khanun is expected to make landfall on the nation’s southeastern coast Thursday morning, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration.

“I can say that this event will go down in history as a very unlucky event,” said Ahmad Alhendawi, the secretary-general of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, adding that it had been a unique experience to see multiple extreme weather patterns in such a short span of time. Scouts would mobilize well before the storm, he added.

Their destination, however, is still under discussion. On Monday, the government announced a jamboree “contingency plan” to relocate the participants to regions likely to be unaffected by the incoming storm.

The presidential office has also urged local governments to step up to host and provide activities for the remainder of the scouts’ stay in South Korea. Suggested activities include visits to the National Palace Museum and Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, which are offering scouts discounts and free admission. Others include traditional cultural performances in Jeonju, in the southeast-central area of the country.

The World Scout Jamboree has already taken several blows during the past week. While more than 43,000 teenagers from 158 countries had flown to South Korea to attend the festivities, at least 138 people were hospitalized from heat exhaustion. Then, the British, Singaporean and U.S. scouting organizations left for activities in other parts of South Korea just several days into the event.

Over the weekend, a South Korean contingent pulled out, claiming that jamboree organizers had mishandled allegations of a sex offense on the campgrounds.

The government responded to the heat wave by ordering air-conditioned buses and trucks for the participants. A K-pop concert that had been scheduled for the weekend was postponed to Friday, the day before the end of the jamboree.

After a bumpy start, in the past few days, the jamboree was starting to get into full swing and encompass the spirit and nature of the annual gathering, Alhendawi said. But the biggest takeaway amid the turmoil, he said, was the “resilience of the young scouts” throughout all the problems of the past week.

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