Partying in Water While the Country Burns

PSY drew criticism for water bomb concerts during severe drought.

Video: PSY's Summar Swag 2018.  Credit: TopStarNews.

Usually, a concert by PSY 싸이 of Gangnam Style 강남스타일 fame is a guaranteed good time. But this time, his Summer Swag 2022 concert, dubbed “the Soaking Wet Show” 흠뻑쇼, is drawing criticism.

The performer’s annual summer concert involves massive blasts of water - up to 300t per show - sprayed over the partygoers in the sun. The profligate use of water was met with disapproval, as South Korea has been undergoing severe drought that is causing wildfire and destroying crops. (See previous coverage, “Drought Scorches Korea.”) Thus far PSY has been firm in his resolve to have a blast, announcing on June 13 that he will add one more show to the usual lineup of ten shows around the country.

The concerts caused a backlash, then a backlash to the backlash. Health authorities warned that the water would render the mask mandate ineffective. Actress Lee El 이엘 criticized PSY on social media, saying: “blast that 300t of water into the Soyang River 소양강,” referencing the river that supplies drinking water to Seoul.

Writer Lee Seon-ok 이선옥 criticized Lee El as “virtue signaling” and characteristic of “political correctness that focuses more on appealing one’s righteousness rather than acting for change.” Still others criticized Lee Seon-ok, arguing the Seoul-based urbanite author was insensitive to the pain of the rural farmers who are seeing their crops being destroyed.

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