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Foreign Ministry considers requesting probe into Pyongyang map mishap at P4G

The controversial video for P4G Seoul Summit shows a satellite image of Pyongyang, instead of Seoul. (Screenshot from YouTube)
The controversial video for P4G Seoul Summit shows a satellite image of Pyongyang, instead of Seoul. (Screenshot from YouTube)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry is considering requesting an investigation by state auditors or police to find out why a controversial video screened at the P4G summit showed Pyongyang instead of Seoul, and whether it was an intentional act or purely accidental. 

The ministry also said it will reprimand officials that were part of the P4G preparatory committee for not thoroughly checking the video content before it was released. 

The decision came after the ministry opened an internal inquiry earlier this month after Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong expressed deep regret over the Pyongyang blunder and ordered a detailed investigation. 

At the opening ceremony of the recently completed P4G summit on May 30, a video introducing the summit venue mistakenly featured a satellite image of Pyongyang instead of Seoul, drawing public ridicule and criticism, with the main opposition party calling it a “diplomatic disaster.” The global climate summit marked the first time Seoul hosted a multilateral international session on the environment. 

The internal inquiry found that the video in question was outsourced by an external agency for the production. The subcontractor in charge of creating the video searched online stock footage for a satellite clip that zooms in from the earth orbit to South Korea to include in the clip. The producer then found a clip and paid for footage titled “Zooming in from Earth's orbit to Pyongyang North Korea in East Asia,” on the VideoHive site, believing it was South Korea. 

The producer claimed he was unaware that “Pyongyang” and “North Korea” were in the title. There were three rehearsals before the opening night, during which the video in question was screened. But the mistake went unnoticed by the preparatory committee or officials from Cheong Wa Dae and other offices that participated in the rehearsal. 

The offending video was screened and the blunder was discovered later, when a local media outlet reported on it. Since then, the clip has been re-edited to replace Pyongyang with a zoom-out from Seoul. 

Despite internal inquiry, it is it is still unclear whether or not the video producer included the Pyongyang clip intentionally, according to the ministry official. The ministry is mulling over whether to further investigate the matter, either by the Board of Audit and Inspection, other investigation authorities, or the police.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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