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Cool Down with Waterbomb: 2023 Review

By: Naomi Rodriguez | 30 August, 2023

Waterbomb Seoul is one of the biggest water festivals in the world, and one of the biggest festivals in South Korea alone. It’s been 8 years since the beginnings of Waterbomb, and in 2023, they’ve expanded to 7 more cities across the peninsula. As a fan of K-Pop, you always hope to get the most amazing performances from your idols if they’re invited. Since 2016, it has become a part of my bucket list without the thought of how in the world I would fly across continents to make it there.

Yet, I found myself flying to South Korea with my best friend just in time for Sunday’s Waterbomb lineup. It was one of the biggest days of the 3-day bender with artists like Lee Youngji, AESPA, BIBI, DPR LIVE, and Waterbomb’s Crowned Queen, Hyuna. I had just moved my suitcase into my dorm for the summer and ran right out to the subway to meet up with a friend who came with us last minute. That day became a first for many things I did in Korea, and probably one of the greatest days of my summer.

We found ourselves getting lost on the subway but made it just in time. Crowds filled the station, and everybody was gearing up with their water guns, sunglasses, and the best ways to soak up the sun. We made it into the venue with Lee Youngji singing one of her Show Me the Money hits, “Witch.” One thing they don’t tell you is once you reach the entrance of the main stage, you will be attacked with water guns left and right. So the crowd always ran straight to the main stage with excitement!

We slowly made our way to barricade as each act went on and left. My favorite moments in between acts was Waterbomb Time! Dancers came out with giant water guns to shoot the crowd to cool us down between sets. Suddenly, we see BIBI’s name across the stage, and she comes out with “비누 (BINU).” And in true BIBI fashion, she jumps off the stage and hugs her fans by barricade. She finished her set after a few songs with her most popular, BIBI Vengeance, which left the crowd in love with her and even her backup dancers.

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BIBI, Team Green, at Waterbomb by Naomi Rodriguez.

After a few more sets, it was time for the biggest idols of the night: AESPA. When the group’s name showed up on screen for Green Team, the crowds pushed even closer. I became surrounded by fanboys left and right but still sickeningly close to the barricade! The group came on stage with their highest charting song, “Next Level.” Out of the whole day, this was the most excited I’ve seen the crowd. Phones were up, hands were shaking, and people were screaming how amazing the girls were. My favorite performance was when they did “YEPPI YEPPI” because it felt like the girls were having fun – and it was one of their cutest B-sides! AESPA only performed about 5 songs but interacted with the audience a lot, and you can tell how excited the audience was to see them.

waterbomb festival review
AESPA, Team Green, at Waterbomb taken by Naomi Rodriguez.

Before the biggest act of the night, Waterbomb had brought out a special guest! RalRal is a famous South Korean YouTuber, who released a fun song called “Square Eyes.” She wore a wedding dress with wings and high pink boots and was accompanied by her backup dancers, who were Drag and Ballroom performers! The backup dancers brought the show on with their high-heeled boots and glamorous makeup. It was a short performance but honestly, this was one of the greatest energies I’ve seen from the backup dancers and RalRal herself.

Then came the act of the night, the moment I’ve literally been waiting for. Hyuna’s name popped on stage while she began with “I’m Not Cool.” You can feel the stadium break out in the biggest excitement I’ve seen the whole day. Waiting the whole festival to reach the barricade was more than worth it, I’ve never had an experience like this before. Hyuna performed her classics from “Red,” “BABE,” “Cause I’m God Girl,” and her most iconic debut, “Bubble Pop.” The cutest moment of the night was when “Bubble Pop” wasn’t even on the setlist, but the crowd kept singing it so she felt like she needed to! With each and every song, the crowds were going crazy from the barricade all the way to the back of the venue. Being able to see Hyuna live felt like such a full circle moment for me after being into K-Pop for so long. I genuinely believe this was one of my favorite live music events I’ve been to.

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Hyuna at Waterbomb by friend, Ria.

If you ever find yourself in South Korea in the summer, Waterbomb is an event you can’t miss. Nothing can top how amazing the interactions are between performers and the audience. You get to see amazing performances back to back, and it’s truly a moment to take in – especially when you’re in a crowded subway soaking wet with folks who just came from Waterbomb too. It’s truly one of the biggest festivals for a reason, and I would go back every year if I could!


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