A Taiwanese official resigned Wednesday after 200,000 passports were printed that mistakenly included an image of Dulles International Airport.
On Tuesday, Focus Taiwan, part of Taiwan’s state media, reported that 200,000 passport books included an image of the suburban D.C. airport instead of Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport. According to the architecture website ArchDaily, that airport, built in 1979, was “influenced by Eero Saarinen’s Washington Dulles International Airport,” which opened in 1962.
The buildings do bear more than a passing resemblance. According to Dulles’s website, Saarinen sought to capture “the soul of the airport” with its distinctive arches and called the terminal “the best thing I have ever done.”
According to Focus Taiwan, 285 passports with the Dulles image will be recalled, and 200,000 already made will be returned to the contract printer. The printer will have to pay to issue corrected passports, which may cost as much as $2.7 million.
Meanwhile, Agnes Chen, head of Taiwan’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, resigned over the error, and Kung Chung-chen, Taiwan’s top envoy to Canada, who was the bureau’s chief when the new passport was designed, was recalled.
“I apologize to the public for the major oversight and will take full administrative responsibility for the incident,” Agnes Chen said in a statement at a news conference.
The personnel changes come after Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs initially denied the error, saying the passports included “100 percent Taiwanese scenery,” according to Taiwan News.
“The foreign ministry is still trying to determine who else should be held responsible for the passport design error, and other heads could roll,” according to Focus Taiwan.