Waterbomb Festival Sparks Controversy Over Revealing Outfits of Female Singers

Waterbomb Festival has previously sparked controversies due to artists wearing overly provocative outfits and water wastage.

Waterbomb is the largest water-themed music festival in South Korea, first organized in August 2015 at Jamsil Sports Complex in Seoul. The event focuses on hip-hop and EDM music and takes place annually at the end of July.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021. After successful editions in Daegu, Incheon, Suwon, and Seoul last year, in 2023, the festival expands its scale to 10 cities in South Korea and extends until August.

Waterbomb Seoul 2023 is organized over 3 days, from June 23 to 25, lasting 540 minutes.

Waterbomb Festival – the famous annual summer-themed music event in South Korea – is a “bursting” playground for many idols.

‘Hot’ stages are created.

At the Waterbomb music festival, water is continuously sprayed onto the crowd and performers. Some notable activities include dividing the audience and singers into two teams and “fighting” by spraying water at each other. Combined with the music stage, there are many dynamic and grand water spraying performances.

In this festival, both the audience and singers are soaked in the special water spray effect. Most attendees wear revealing outfits. Therefore, only adults aged 19 and above are allowed to participate.

Sunmi at the Waterbomb music festival on June 23. Photo: Twitter

Famous celebrities attract audiences to this festival, and they energize the stage with lively performances and dazzle fans with revealing and skin-baring outfits. “Sexy queen” HyunA, Sunmi, Jay Park, BlackPink… are familiar names that appear in many festival seasons and deliver impactful performances.

Wardrobe malfunctions

Due to the nature of the water festival, it is understandable that singers wear hot and revealing outfits, perform sexy choreography, and are more uninhibited than usual. The choice of style and material needs to be carefully considered to avoid embarrassing and inappropriate situations. Many idols have fallen into awkward situations and faced criticism due to wardrobe malfunctions.

During the Waterbomb 2022 festival, singer BIBI increased the heat by removing her T-shirt, revealing a tiny golden bikini underneath. Unexpectedly, BIBI noticed that her bikini strap had slipped off while taking off her shirt and promptly used her hand to hold the swimsuit in place.

BIBI’s bikini mishap during her performance

After a few seconds of confusion, she regained her composure, held the microphone to continue singing in the right rhythm of the performance, and approached a male dancer to ask for help in tying the bikini strap. A staff member then rushed onto the stage to assist BIBI with adjustments. The 25-year-old singer’s handling of the situation was highly praised for her professionalism.

Earlier, in 2018, Sunmi created a legendary moment with a bodysuit on stage, but few knew about the risks behind it. The singer shared that the outfit was advised by the brand not to be used for swimming because it would slip down when soaked in water. Fortunately, Sunmi wore a black breast sticker that day and avoided the worst-case scenario.

Sunmi’s “legendary” stage in 2018. Photo: Osen

Sharing a similar experience, Lee Young Ji revealed that she had faced a situation that seemed to jeopardize her career. During a performance in 2022, the inner two-strap top worn by Lee Young Ji became soaked and pulled down, revealing her bra. However, that day she was wearing a long-sleeved black dress, so no one noticed the wardrobe malfunction.

hyuna Waterbomb
HyunA’s waterbomb costumes receive the most attention.

Under fire for Water Wastage

In 2022, the event sparked controversy due to water wastage amid a drought situation. At that time, the country was experiencing a prolonged drought starting from winter and extending into the early summer, with water sources gradually depleting and the severity of the drought increasing.


Actress Lee El voiced her opposition to the Waterbomb music festival, citing the wasteful use of water amidst the prolonged drought in South Korea.

“I wish that the 300 cubic meters of water used for Waterbomb could be poured into the Soyang River,” the singer expressed. Lee El’s statement acted as a catalyst, fueling the heightening opposition.

In response to this situation, the Waterbomb organizers asserted that they purchased water at a high cost, rendering the criticism unjustified.

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