Posts share Bear Grylls clip with fake comments about scout jamboree hosted by South Korea

After South Korea lost its bid to host the 2030 World Expo on November 29, a screenshot was shared repeatedly with the false claim it shows British survivalist TV presenter Bear Grylls recounting his "horrendous experience" at the World Scout Jamboree held in South Korea in August. The false claim goes on to say Grylls' criticism was the reason behind South Korea's failed bid for the World Expo. But the video actually shows Grylls interviewed by a late-night talk show host in May 2019 -- years before the Jamboree took place.

"The real reason why Busan failed to host the World Expo," reads the Korean-language title of the post shared here on the South Korean forum DCInside on November 29, 2023.

"It is because of the Jamboree hosted by Jeolla province," the post reads.

"What country would vote for South Korea, when a world-famous person like Bear Grylls publicly criticises it on TV?"

The post includes a screenshot of the TV presenter at an interview with purported subtitles in Korean and English that read "I don't want to recall the horrendous experience in Jeolla-Do", referring to the South Korean region that hosted a problem-plagued World Scout Jamboree in early August 2023.

Screenshot of the misleading claim shared on DCInside, captured November 29, 2023.

The image corresponds to a clip which purportedly shows Grylls making the same claim, shared in posts since at least August.

It features a computerised voice saying in English: "Please do not employ any person from Jeolla-do. If you end up employing them, never assign them to key positions."

Grylls, best known for his Discovery Channel survivalist television series "Man vs. Wild", is the chief scout in the UK and chief ambassador of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (archived links here and here).

He delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the 25th World Scout Jamboree in North Jeolla province in August, where he was seen perspiring heavily amid a heatwave (archived links here and here).

Local media labelled the event a "national disgrace" after scorching temperatures, unsanitary temperatures, disease outbreak and an incoming typhoon led to the Jamboree being cut short, with analysts noting South Korea's mismanagement would negatively affect its chances of winning the 2030 World Expo bid (archived link).

Those fears appear to have been borne out, as South Korea's Busan failed in its bid to host the event during a ballot in Paris on November 29, winning only 29 votes compared to the 119 for Saudi Arabia's Riyadh.

Similar claims were shared here on DCInside, here on YouTube and here on Facebook.

Comments left on the misleading posts suggested several users believed the claim was genuine, with many placing the blame for the Expo's failed bid on the Jeolla region -- frequently the target of discriminatory stereotypes due to the country's long-standing regional political divisions (archived link).

"What an embarrassment, no wonder we lost the Expo by such a big margin," wrote one user.

"Jeolla-do is the cause of all the country's problems," wrote another.

But the captions and voice added to the clip from an interview with Grylls in May 2019 are fabricated.

The Late Show interview

A keyword search on YouTube found the clip corresponds to a portion of Grylls' appearance on US broadcaster CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on May 4, 2019 -- years before the Jamboree was hosted by South Korea (archived link).

The original interview shows Grylls answering the host's questions about his survivalist TV show, where he is known for his experiences of drinking his own urine as part of the show.

The clip in the false posts corresponds to the YouTube video's one-minute mark, where Grylls says: "I think the wild humbled me for sure."

"I think the truth is the wild won," he goes on to say.

He does not mention the jamboree, South Korea or scouting at any point in the interview.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading clip on social media (left) and the original The Late Show interview (right):

Screenshot comparison of the misleading clip on social media (left) and the original The Late Show interview (right)

The same interview was also published on the Late Show's Facebook page on May 5, 2019 (archived link).

AFP did not find any interviews of Grylls criticising North Jeolla province or South Korea as a whole for their mismanagement of the scout jamboree.

Throughout the Jamboree, Grylls took to X -- formerly Twitter -- to say the World Scouting Organisation would adapt to and overcome the extreme weather conditions plaguing the event (archived link).

After the event ended, he posted praise of the thousands of scouts for battling tough conditions (archived link).

AFP has debunked other misleading claims about the World Scout Jamboree here and here.

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