Outbreak gives wedding day jitters new meaning

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Outbreak gives wedding day jitters new meaning

Soon-to-be married couples are facing a dilemma over people’s growing reluctance to attend wedding ceremonies amid concerns over the novel coronavirus.

A 34-year-old woman identified by her surname Kim, who is getting married this coming Sunday, heard from many of her friends and relatives that they can’t attend her wedding ceremony because of fears of the virus.

When Kim initially made a reservation with a hotel located in Jung District, central Seoul, she estimated that about 300 people would attend her wedding. The contract specifies that she signed specified that Kim is responsible for paying for 300 meals even if fewer guests attend the ceremony.

As soon as Kim realized that she had to adjust the number to 200, she contacted the hotel but it said that the contract could not be adjusted.

According to regulations of the hotel, people can adjust their estimated number of guests up until two weeks before the ceremony, but only in the case when a larger number of guests than initially predicted is expected to attend.

“If I have to pay for all food for 300 servings, it will be a 4 million won ($3,400) loss,” Kim said.

“Although the hotel is saying that there is no legal problem as the contract specifies it, it’s the hotel’s intention to earn 4 million won without providing services. The hotel is acting irresponsibly when the current coronavirus outbreak is no different from a natural disaster.”

The hotel dismissed Kim’s argument that the outbreak was similar to a natural disaster citing there has only been about 30 patients so far.

Another woman who made a reservation with a wedding company located in Mapo District, western Seoul, said she also inquired if she could reduce the estimated number of guests by 30 percent but has received no answer.

Another couple who reserved a wedding hall in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, said they were also unable to adjust the number of guests they had estimated because the venue said “the contract specifies that changes are only available when more guests are expected to come.”

Many soon-to-be married couples including Kim argue that these responses from wedding halls in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak is act of “unfair trade.”

In regard to their claim, an official from the Fair Trade Commission said, “as ways how wedding companies make contracts with their customers are all different, the issue whether their contracts are unfair or not should be reviewed individually.”

BY JEONG EUN-HYE, CHEA SARAH [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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