April showers bring May matchmakingSpring has sprung and this is the time that young hearts turn to love. For young hearts without love, though, all is not lost ― this is also the time when matchmaking companies kick it into high gear, offering love at high-volume discounts.
Case in point: the 1,000 people who were gathered to a hotel recently by the matchmaking company Sunoo.
At each round table, 10 complete strangers were seated. Despite having none of the typical connections ― high school, university clubs, church ― bonding anyone to anyone else, things began quickly.
For the older generation, it took more than half an hour for people to break the ice and begin to feel comfortable with each other, but these participants were blunt and wasted little time in introducing themselves to the other people on the table. Soon the entire ballroom was filled with laughter.
Since first impressions counted the most, all the men and women tried to be interesting and enticing. A few took boldness to an extreme ― for example the young women who wore dresses that exposed their entire bare backs.
The participants were separated into groups based on general age range. Within each group, you could meet all the people you wanted, but you were not supposed to meet people in the other age groups.
Of course, all rules are made to be broken, and one industrious man in the oldest group claimed that he had given out his card to nearly every woman in the room.
After a long spell of meeting and greeting, the organizers from Sunoo told the participants it was nearly time to write down the name of the persons they were most interested in. Chaos quickly ensued, as everyone tried to make sure they had met all they people they were interested in.
The results of the matches were checked, and on this night 128 couples were born.
That was hardly the only matchmaking game in town. Last weekend in Gyeonggi province, at a fancy lodge in Yangpyeong valley, the tourist agency Hue Pension held a two-day dating event called “Pension Meeting.”
“In the past, each side examined the other’s life history before they actually met,” an official at the tourist agency said. “Nowadays it’s just the opposite, and it’s more focused on events.” He added that “chemistry” is the most important factor. “It’s generally known that looks, style and conversation skills are what count on blind dates, and for that reason matchmaking companies do fewer one-on-one dates and more group dates.” Better odds, after all.
“It’s an era where blind dates are the way to go, and that’s why tourist agencies and leisure companies are jumping in on the matchmaking market,” the official said.
Other matchmaking companies have held events such as horseback riding, survival games, hang-gliding, ballroom dancing events, mountain biking dates and just about anything else you might imagine.
For the “Pension Meeting,” 30 young men and women gathered in Seoul to take the bus to the resort all together. On the bus ride, at least five couples were already hitting it off.
After the sun went down, a barbecue party started, which was followed by a talent show where participants did everything from dancing to impressions of President Roh Moo-hyun in an effort to impress the other sex. Being funny appeared to be an important factor in winning hearts, although a big set of antlers or really bright plumage probably didn’t hurt. At the “Pension Meeting,” four couples officially were born, but it was a pretty sure bet that others had already exchanged their phone numbers before it even began.
by Son Min-ho