SEOUL — John Mayer appeared casual chic as usual during his first South Korean concert tour on Tuesday, but completed his look with a yellow ribbon designed to pay tribute to the victims of a recent ferry accident that has left the Asian country shocked and grief-stricken.
The singer’s performance in Seoul marks the first concert to take place as the entire local entertainment industry virtually shut down. Concerts, festivals and film premieres were called off while album releases were delayed in deference to the disaster on April 16 that has resulted in 268 deaths. A majority of victims were 15- and 16-year-olds on a high school trip, and 34 passengers, including 23 students, remain missing as of Tuesday, May 6.
Shortly after the accident, victims’ schoolmates tied yellow ribbons as a symbolic gesture of hope for their safe return. Scores of Koreans followed suit, decorating memorials across the country and their social media accounts with ribbons. K-pop singers, actors and other celebrities have also joined in the campaign, with many making donations, raising funds for the victims and offering handmade tributes.
Before rolling out the evening’s program, Mayer thanked fans for allowing him to proceed with his concert and said he would be dedicating all of the songs performed to victims of the tragedy, adding that he hoped his music would help heal those affected. The performance lasted about two hours as he crooned 19 numbers, including his Grammy-winning “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” “Gravity” and “Vultures.”
The 36-year-old also announced that all proceeds from merchandise sales would go to relief aid for the disaster. Recovery efforts are still underway for missing persons, as divers navigate the 6,825-ton ferry that is underwater near the southwest coast of Korea. Poor weather conditions have delayed the process in the area that is notorious for its strong, murky currents.
Mayer’s tour marks the 14th edition of the Hyundai Card Culture Project series, which featured concerts by Beyonce and Kraftwerk as well as various art exhibitions.