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New Year's Eve drone no-show in Busan spurs outrage

Jan. 1, 2024 - 17:46 By Lim Jae-seong
People leave Gwangalli Beach after the New Year's Eve drone show was postponed on Monday. (X account @fivesignals)

A New Year countdown drone show slated to be held at Gwangalli beach in Busan on Sunday was abruptly canceled due to technical error, sparking complaints among the tens of thousands gathered at the port city to witness the event.

Online community platforms and social media were abuzz Monday with complaints over the sudden cancellation of the Gwangalli Marvelous Drone Light Show, a New Year event that was to be held over the Gwangandaegyo bridge around midnight for the countdown. It was was delayed and ultimately canceled at around 12:30 a.m.

A video posted online showed the scene of confusion at the venue, as the cancellation was announced well after midnight. The video shows people complaining loudly as they left the area. The owner of the video said she came all the way from Seoul and booked an ocean-view hotel room at a premium price to see the drone show.

Her complaint was echoed by others who participated in the event that said the organizers' cancellation notice came too late. The announcements were also only in Korean, leaving several foreign visitors at a loss as to what was going on.

The event's host, Suyoung-gu Office of Busan, said an unexpected malfunction in telecommunications used to control the drones led to the delay and subsequent cancellation.

Rehearsal videos of the show went viral on social media and drew over 80,000 people to the venue, according to local media reports.

The event was to use some 2,000 drones to illustrate the 2024 countdown in the sky, along with a blue dragon bearing a sacred jewel that signifies the advent of the year of the blue dragon.

The show has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, according to Suyoung-gu Office.