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In South Korea You can get fake friends at your wedding for a fee

There is a new industry in South Korea that exists to help real people find fake friends to fill seats at weddings.

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A Korean wedding play

A Korean wedding

(Elise Hu/NPR)

In South Korea, weddings have now become a very lucrative business.

So much that, there are business outfits that give real people fake friends to fill their seats at not only weddings, but also baby showers.

Here is what Kim Seyeon, a professional role player, who has attended about 70 weddings in the past 18 months, as a hired fake guest, has to say.

"When it's the peak wedding season in Korea, sometimes I do two or three acts a day, every weekend. It's fun. A lot of the times [couples] need these guests because they want to save face. They're conscious of what others think, and they need more friends. So the brides are very thankful for my presence."

Kim Seyeon, a professional role player. play

Kim Seyeon, a professional role player.

(Elise Hu/NPR)


Lee Hyun-su, who runs a South Korean casting agency called Role Rental 1-1-9, adds:

"This year we've seen increases in the other types of rental requests [like] renting family members, boyfriends, girlfriends, lovers or office employees. There have also been times when people hire fake spouses to get a loan from the bank."

Daniel Tudor, an author, who writes of South Korea's hyper-competitive society and its obsession with image, in his new book called Korea: The Impossible Country, says:

"The wave of competition unleashed in South Korea since the economic take-off in the 1960s has brought about a crucial change. Now, according to Hwang Sang-min, a professor of psychology at Yonsei University, Koreans feel impelled to achieve an image of perfection rather than mere respectability and to be seen as doing not just well but better than others. A kind of 'face inflation' has taken place. ... People construct about themselves the public image of a perfect person and then somehow they must live up to it. A word that has great currency in Korea today is jalnancheok, or 'pretending to do well."

This fake friends business was clearly born out of a need for people to impress, and, as long as human beings keep wanting to impress others, the fake friend industry keeps booming.

Take the poll below to let us know what you think about this fake friend business.

Would you hire a friend for your wedding, baby shower?»

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