Recently, South Korea lost the bid to host the 2030 World Expo to Saudi Arabia, and since then, the country’s efforts to secure the bid have come under scrutiny.
The promotional videos made to advertise Busan, the proposed host city, have been one of the major points of controversy. With the operational budget for the videos estimated at ₩5.20 billion KRW (about $4.02 million USD), their lack of substantial effect on the bid’s result has irked many. Notably, the videos mostly relied on PowerPoint-style video slides.
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On November 30, KBS News reported on the estimated cost, which was discovered through an investigation by the office of Jang Kyung Tae¸, a member of the Democratic Party of Korea. According to reports, some of the presentations’ production costs were as high as at least several billion won.
According to Rep. Jang’s office, the ₩5.30 billion KRW (about $4.09 million USD) budget was spent on various components, including the cost of producing the 4th presentation video in France last June, hosting a reception during that event, and the production of the final presentation video which was revealed on November 28.
In response, an official from the video production agency told the media that they couldn’t confirm the expenditure of each video’s production and the celebrity appearance fee. They also added that their contract with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy is not accessible for third-party verification.
One of the major reasons why the presentation video was ill-received was the usage of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” as background music. Many questioned why a song about Gangnam, which is an affluent neighborhood in Seoul, was being used in a video meant to promote Busan.
Another point of controversy surrounding the video was that it put celebrities at the forefront instead of putting the focus on Busan. The criticism has become so widespread that President Yoon Suk Yeol apologized publicly, saying, “The failure to win the Expo bid is completely the fault of my shortcomings.”
President Yoon Suk Yeol | News1 The President had to publicly apologize.