The Korea Herald


Waterbomb festival to thrill 9 cities

Along with anticipation, persists concerns over water waste

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : July 6, 2024 - 16:01

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Waterbomb Sokcho 2023 (Hanwha Hotel & Resort) Waterbomb Sokcho 2023 (Hanwha Hotel & Resort)

Waterbomb, a summer festival that combines music and water activities, has returned to cool down the summer. The festival, however, also faces criticism for water waste and environmental issues.

At Waterbomb, participants can enjoy performances and water activities at the same time. Since its inception in 2015, the festival has been held every year except 2020 and 2021, when the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an event where alcohol is allowed and therefore restricted to adults, Waterbomb attracted some 200,000 people last year. Most participants are in their 20s and 30s, and the festival is regarded as an essential Korean summer event among many young people.

Starting with Seoul Waterbomb running just outside the city from Friday to Sunday at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, the festival will take place sequentially at nine locations, including Jeju Island, Daegu, Busan, Incheon, Daejeon, Sokcho in Gangwon Province, Suwon in Gyeonggi Province and Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, to the end of August.

The Seoul Waterbomb lineup includes rappers Zico, Jay Park, and Simon Dominic, K-pop artists Hwasa, Chungha, Kang Daniel, Minho and Taemin of SHINee, Kiss of Life, and P1Harmony, as well as comedians Lee Suji and Chi Yeeun.

The Jeju Waterbomb at Jeju Stadium will feature legendary hip-hop trio Epik High, veteran K-pop band Highlight, and top stars Bibi and Lee Youngji.

For the second consecutive year, Hanwha Hotel & Resort, the Gangwon Province venue of Waterbomb, will feature performances by 11 acts, including singers Rain, Chuu, CL, Kwon Eun-bi and Baekho and rappers Gray, Loco and Woo Won-jae.

Waterbomb is not free from criticism, especially regarding its excessive water usage.

In 2022, actor Lee El criticized the festival via social media, saying, "I wish the 300 tons of water used at the Waterbomb concert could be poured into the Soyang River." Regions near the Soyang River were suffering from severe drought around that time.

TV personality and DJ Julian Quintart posted a photo of a Waterbomb invitation -- seemingly sent to VIPs -- on his social media, writing, "Single-use LED in the invitation?"

In a post Saturday he further explained, "As a DJ, I have always been concerned about the impact of festivals on the environment. I have been critical of excessive water usage, and when I saw that the invitation used nonrecyclable materials containing rare and expensive resources, I was honestly upset and frustrated."

Quintart added, "Even Coldplay showed efforts toward sustainability at their concert by reusing entrance wristbands, minimizing the use of disposable cups, using energy-saving LED screens and flying on commercial flights instead of private jets. I hope to see festivals in Korea also taking environmental concerns into account."

The water used in Waterbomb and other water festivals typically comes from tanks filled with municipal water or water drawn from reservoirs. An official from the Hanwha Resort said the company plans to use groundwater for this year’s Waterbomb. He also mentioned that it is difficult to accurately measure the amount of water that will be used during the festival.

While there are criticisms regarding water usage, some argue it is unfair to blame water festivals for issues like droughts or water shortages. Kim, a 28-year-old office worker who purchased tickets for Seoul Waterbomb, had high expectations, having had a great experience at Waterbomb two years ago.

"Waterbomb indeed uses a lot of water, but I think the issues surrounding water and the festival are separate matters. Instead of reducing the water waste at the event, I believe the fundamental solution should be to address the drought problem," Kim said.

Waterbomb Sokcho 2023 (Hanwha Hotel & Resort) Waterbomb Sokcho 2023 (Hanwha Hotel & Resort)