SE SO NEON apologise for performing at SXSW amid boycott: “We feel deeply embarrassed”

South Korean indie rock band SE SO NEON have apologised for performing at SXSW performance amid a boycott over the festival’s sponsorship by the US Department of Defense.

Two days after their SXSW set on March 16 in Austin, Texas, SE SO NEON addressed their decision to move ahead with the performance in a statement was issued via the band’s Instagram Stories earlier today (March 18), addressing the controversy.

“We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest regret and apologies for the disappointment and distress that has been caused regarding our participation in SXSW,” the band wrote. They added that they were “unaware of the US military’s involvement” with the festival “due to the lack of coverage of Gaza-related news in Korea”.


SE SO NEON also added that they were in the dark about “SXSW’s involvement and the act of the boycott”. The band said that they “absolutely do not support the indiscriminate and brutal events taking place in Gaza”, adding that they are “against war and in favour of freedom and peace”.

“We feel deeply embarrassed about not noticing the situation earlier. As a result, we did not have sufficient information about the situation until we arrived in Austin,” they continued. “Additionally, since we cannot check comments and DMs from fans on a daily basis, we failed to properly address the issue both before and after the show.”

They concluded their statement by clarifying that “SE SO NEON is in no way involved, and we extend our sincere and deepest condolences to the many victims in Palestine.”

se so neon so!yoon! sxsw boycott apology statement
Credit: SE SO NEON official Instagram

SE SO NEON Frontwoman So!YoON! also took to her personal Instagram to reiterate her apologies. “I take the issue of war and indiscriminate slaughter very seriously. I’m ashamed to admit that while in Korea, I wasn’t fully aware of the details and seriousness of this boycott,” she wrote.

“Arriving in Austin and hearing firsthand accounts from local friends made the boycott situation more vivid for me. While I felt embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t have much choice, all I could do was my best, which, in this case, meant singing.”


The singer also added: “Moving forward, I’ll ponder what I can do in the face of all the cruelty and violence in the world. Perhaps singing is the answer. Peace is always at the heart of my songs. But at least I won’t sing where it supports war. That’s my deeply felt stance.”

se so neon so!yoon! sxsw boycott apology statement
Credit: So!YoON! official Instagram

Earlier this month, more than 100 artists and guest speakers previously set to appear at SXSW pulled out of the festival after it was revealed to have been sponsored by the US Department of Defense, alongside other major weapons manufacturers.

Artists who withdrew from SXSW amid the boycott released several statements denouncing the US military’s sponsorship of the event, with five Irish bands releasing a joint statement saying: “Sponsorship of the festival from defence contractors and those sending arms to destroy innocent lives is an act we find disgusting and reprehensible.

Other musicians, such as Belfast’s Kneecap shared in their own statement that their decision not to perform at SXSW was made “in solidarity with the people of Palestine”, saying that their decision would have a “significant financial impact” on them, but that it wasn’t “an iota of hardship when compared with the unimaginable suffering being inflicted every minute of every day on the people of Gaza”.

Since the boycott, Texas governor Greg Abbott wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Bye. Don’t come back. Austin remains the HQ for the Army Futures Command. San Antonio is Military City USA. We are proud of the U.S. military in Texas. If you don’t like it, don’t come here.”

In response to both Abbott’s statement and the mass boycott, SXSW released their own stance shortly after, writing: “SXSW does not agree with Governor Abbott. We are an organisation that welcomes diverse viewpoints. Music is the soul of SXSW, and it has long been our legacy. We fully respect the decision these artists made to exercise their right to free speech.”