Hong Joon-pyo, mayor of Daegu and former chief of the ruling People Power Party, criticized government officials, Friday, for spreading false hope about Busan's chance of winning the right to host World Expo 2030.
In a message posted on social media, Hong said the problem was not the Korean city's failure to defeat the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh in the Expo competition; the problem was the failure of getting a realistic sense of what was going on, which demonstrated all related ministries and agencies' "incompetence and ignorance," he noted.
"Don't you think we should find and castigate the staff members responsible for giving false information to the public with a major daily newspaper article headline aiming for ‘a 49 to 51 come-from-behind win' just two days before the Expo announcement and for making the president to visit Paris upon his return from his U.S. trip?" he wrote.
"Such incompetent, sycophantic staff bring confusion to the country and ruin the administration."
His statement comes three days after the General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) — the Expo governing body — voted for Riyadh to host the major world event with a whopping 119 out of 165 votes. Busan received 29 votes and Rome received 17 votes.
Busan's overwhelming loss surprised the public as well as President Yoon Suk Yeol, who said he was not expecting the government prediction to be that off the mark. Many officials taking part in the city's bidding efforts had claimed the gap was narrow and it could feasibly win. They could not have been more wrong.
Foreign Minister Park Jin, who played a key role in the campaign, said the previous day that he felt responsible for the result that "did not live up to our expectations."
Speaking at the opposition Democratic Party of Korea's Supreme Council meeting on Friday, Rep. Lee Jae-myung, its chairman, also criticized the government for the wildly inaccurate forecast.
"If the administration thought it would be possible to achieve a coming-up-from-behind victory without any idea about the result, it demonstrates its incompetence … If it pushed for it knowing all that, it's just a vile deed."