Report details Korea’s lavish-wedding trap

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Report details Korea’s lavish-wedding trap

The approaching wedding season has put the wealth gap in Korea in stark relief: It takes 3.3 million won?($3,100) to 336.5 million won per person to tie the knot, the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) reported yesterday.

The KCA surveyed 1,000 couples nationwide who married within the past two years and found that the?average cost of a wedding was about 52 million won per person, excluding housing.

Households with less than 3 million won of monthly income spent an average of 40.93 million won each, while households with more than 8 million won of monthly income spent 72.39 million won.

The cost for ceremonies went from 1.2 million won to 119 million won, largely affected by the cost of the venues, with hotels being the most expensive followed by wedding halls, public places and religious facilities.

Grooms usually spent an average of about 7 million won more than the brides.

It took an average of 272 million won to purchase houses and 154 million won for jeonse, or two-year housing contracts.

Eighty-five percent of those surveyed said there is a trend toward lavish expenditures on weddings.

Of reasons for why weddings cost so much, 27.6 percent said there is a common social expectation that weddings should be as lavish as those of acquaintances and family; 24.6 percent said it was due to the overall general trend toward materialism; 21.5 percent cited high-profile weddings of celebrities and public officials; and 17.4 percent suggested it was the lack of a healthy marriage model.

“The spread of the new marriage culture that consumers can trust and follow, including exemplary weddings of community leaders and the development of small weddings, is desperately needed,” said a spokesman for KCA.

According to the KCA, government officials led by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family are participating in small-wedding campaigns, yet the effort should be expanded.

The government also stipulates that state agencies and public organizations open their auditoriums and conference rooms as affordable wedding venues as one way to encourage financially responsible marriage ceremonies under the Act on Family Rite Establishment and Related Assistance.

The KCA also suggested although consumers need information on wedding products and services, including venues, clothing, gifts and receptions, there is no independent and reliable information comparing those products and services.

“To reduce the household burden of wedding costs, the KCA plans to make a proposal to the relevant authorities to develop new wedding models of simple and meaningful small weddings that are couple oriented, instead of expensive and wasteful,” said a KCA spokesman. “We plan to also ask for the authorities to establish a comparative information system for wedding products and services to support reasonable consumption.”



BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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