Thousands of Scouts Evacuated from Coastal Campsite in South Korea Due to Approaching Tropical Storm

by Andrew Wright

In response to an approaching tropical storm, South Korea has initiated the evacuation of numerous Scouts from their coastal campsite. Buses have been mobilized to transport tens of thousands of Scouts to safer inland locations. This marks the conclusion of the World Scout Jamboree, which was already grappling with challenges such as extreme heat, hygiene concerns, and controversies related to land use.

South Korea, known for its enthusiasm in hosting global events, worked hard to keep the Jamboree going even as many British and American Scouts left over the weekend due to a severe heatwave that led to hospitalizations among attendees.

The decision to abandon the coastal campsite in the town of Buan was announced on Monday afternoon, prompted by forecasts indicating that Tropical Storm Khanun was on a trajectory towards the Korean Peninsula.

The Jamboree will continue in a modified form, featuring cultural activities and events, including a K-Pop concert in Seoul on Friday.

Critics have voiced objections to the choice of holding the Jamboree at the Saemangeum site, suggesting it was a move to justify further investment in a contentious area of reclaimed land.

Over 37,000 Scouts from 156 countries, primarily teenagers, are being evacuated using more than 1,000 vehicles. Accommodations have been arranged in Seoul and the nearby region, utilizing university dormitories, corporate training centers, government facilities, and hotels.

Tropical Storm Khanun has lingered around Japan’s southwestern islands for over a week, causing heavy rainfall, power outages, and property damage.

As of early Tuesday, the storm was positioned 350 kilometers (217 miles) south of Kagoshima, a city on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. The storm boasted winds of 108 kph (67 mph), with gusts reaching 144 kph (89 mph), moving slowly northward, as reported by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

South Korea’s weather agency categorized the storm as a typhoon, with wind speeds of 126 kph (78 mph), predicting a slight increase in strength before its expected landfall on Thursday morning. The storm is anticipated to bring forceful winds and heavy rainfall to South Korea from Wednesday through Friday.

The South Korean safety ministry has instructed local authorities to prepare for the closure of coastal areas, trails, parks, tunnels, and other flood-prone regions.

The Jamboree initially began at the Saemangeum campsite, a massive reclaimed area from the sea, following a 19-year project that culminated in a 33-kilometer (21 mile) seawall, which South Korea claims to be the world’s longest. However, Saemangeum has largely remained undeveloped, as plans for highways, ports, and an international airport have faced setbacks. The site is now seen less favorably due to its negative impact on coastal wetlands and fisheries.

There were concerns prior to the event about accommodating large numbers of young participants in a vast, exposed area lacking protection from extreme heat. The Jamboree saw numerous cases of heat-related illnesses, coinciding with one of South Korea’s hottest summers in recent times.

Critics argue that hosting the Jamboree at Saemangeum was an attempt to bolster investment in the site. In a 2018 document detailing their bid for the Jamboree, the North Jeolla provincial government cited attracting infrastructure investment to the area as the main motivation, after initial plans had stalled.

Before the evacuation, the government directed resources to support the event, including medical personnel, air-conditioned buses, military shade structures, and sanitation workers for maintaining facilities.

The campsite will not host any future events after the Scouts’ departure.

Over 270 police vehicles and four helicopters were deployed to escort the departing buses, a process expected to take over six hours.

More than 13,500 scouts will find accommodations in Gyeonggi province, the largest province surrounding Seoul. An additional 3,100 scouts will stay in Seoul, while around 3,200 will be placed in nearby Incheon. Nearly 9,000 scouts are headed to various venues in the North and South Chungcheong provinces in the central region.

Lee Sang-min, South Korea’s Minister of the Interior and Safety, affirmed that local governments are ensuring accommodation sanitation, medical support, and food safety for participants.

The decision to evacuate followed a call from the World Organization of the Scout Movement for South Korea to swiftly relocate the Scouts out of the storm’s path and provide necessary resources until they return home. Ahmad Alhendawi, the organization’s secretary-general, acknowledged the unprecedented challenges faced in this Jamboree and praised South Korea’s extensive efforts to manage the situation despite adverse weather conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about evacuation

What led to the evacuation of Scouts in South Korea?

The evacuation of Scouts in South Korea was prompted by the approach of a tropical storm, namely Tropical Storm Khanun, which posed a significant threat to their safety at the coastal campsite.

What was the state of the World Scout Jamboree before the evacuation?

The World Scout Jamboree had already faced challenges like extreme heat, hygiene concerns, and controversies over land use, which had impacted the event’s operations and participants’ well-being.

How did the South Korean government respond to the challenges faced by the Jamboree?

The South Korean government worked to address the challenges by providing medical staff, air-conditioned buses, military shade structures, and sanitation workers to maintain facilities. Efforts were made to support the event despite the difficulties.

What was the primary reason behind evacuating the Scouts?

The primary reason for evacuating the Scouts was to ensure their safety in the face of the approaching tropical storm, Khanun. The storm’s potential impact on the coastal campsite necessitated their relocation to safer inland venues.

How did the Scouts’ evacuation impact the Jamboree?

The evacuation marked the effective end of the World Scout Jamboree as it was originally planned, with Scouts being moved to different accommodations. The Jamboree continued with modified cultural events and activities, including a K-Pop concert in Seoul.

What were the concerns regarding the chosen campsite for the Jamboree?

Critics raised concerns about hosting the Jamboree at the Saemangeum site, suggesting it was aimed at justifying further investment in a contentious area of reclaimed land, which had negative ecological consequences.

How were the Scouts accommodated after the evacuation?

Over 37,000 Scouts from various countries, mostly teenagers, were accommodated in safer locations such as university dormitories, corporate training centers, government facilities, and hotels in Seoul and the surrounding regions.

What challenges did the tropical storm pose to South Korea and Japan?

Tropical Storm Khanun brought heavy rainfall, power outages, and property damage to Japan’s southwestern islands and was projected to impact South Korea with strong winds and heavy rains.

How did the South Korean government handle the evacuation process?

The South Korean government deployed over 270 police vehicles and four helicopters to escort the buses carrying Scouts. The evacuation process was expected to take around six hours.

What was the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s response to the evacuation?

The World Organization of the Scout Movement urged South Korea to quickly relocate the Scouts and provide necessary resources until they returned home. They recognized the challenges posed by adverse weather conditions and praised South Korea’s efforts in addressing them.

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AdventureJunkie August 8, 2023 - 8:59 am

scouts evac’d? crazy! jamboree strugglin’ w/ heat & hygiene. storm adds more drama. hope they all safe!

NatureLover123 August 8, 2023 - 11:36 am

S. Korea doin’ their thing hostin’ events. but storm messin’ up jamboree! land use fights, heatwave, now this. hope nature recovers!


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