A reporter took a job posing as a friend of the bride at the wedding.
“You look gorgeous! The dress you’re wearing looks much better in the pictures you’ve sent me. Others are on their way there too,” I said to the bride as I entered the wedding lounge. . The room is covered with white flowers.
She smiled brightly, thanked me for coming and gave me an amazingly spontaneous hug. This is the first time we meet.
For 15,000 won ($12.60) for an hour and a half, she hired me to pose as her friend on her wedding day.
My first job as a friend started with a brief job posting on the KakaoTalk group chat room.
“Hong Minh-jung. 30 years old. Working…at company…in province… Wedding on…, at…at… Search up to 10 friends. If you are interested, please give us a call.”
I applied with a brief CV with photo, age and other personal information and sent it to her 3 days before the wedding.
There are some basic rules that I have to follow when doing this job. Firstly, I need to take a picture with her in the bride’s lounge before the wedding takes place. Second, I had to attend a group photo session after the wedding. Third, I’m not allowed to talk to the bride’s family members. And lastly, I must not forget or mistake the bride’s name.
After reading the notes, I headed to the wedding room and joined the “temporary” group of friends. They are also actors who play friends of the bride or groom at the wedding.
About 30 minutes before the ceremony, at a cafe near the wedding venue, I met other actors who were in attendance that day. The manager of the service company that hired me and 9 other “fake” guests for Min-jung were also there.
Customers can hire people to pretend to be friends through service companies
“Let’s split into three groups with different roles including co-workers, old college friends and high school friends,” the woman said.
Since I’m the same age as the bride, I was placed in a group of high school friends along with 2 other people in their 20s.
Then the “show” began. I walked into the waiting room and saw the bride for the first time. She’s with her real friends and family, or at least that’s what I see.
The next moment, Minjung and I talk to each other like we’ve known each other for years. We put our arms around each other, gave each other warm smiles and talked in a whisper.
A real job
Hiring guests to sit-in weddings has been popular in Korea since the early 2000s. Since then, it has expanded to a variety of family gatherings ranging from birthday parties. until the funeral.
Just type “wedding guest rental” on Naver – Korea’s largest portal site – and you’ll get a long list of service providers nationwide.
The cost of hiring people through a service company is 20,000-30,000 won/person.
“You only need to spend 29,000 won per person. We have a team of experienced part-timers and make sure to keep our customers’ secrets,” said an employee at the company.
This person added, if the client wants, they can give cash to the actor no later than 2 days before the wedding. Actors will use this money to make wedding favors for the bride and groom and make their relatives and relatives unquestionable.
Businesses in this field as well as all wedding services have suffered the consequences of the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic. Gatherings are restricted. However, things gradually stabilized when the government relaxed the epidemic prevention rules.
For actors, this is quite an attractive job. Although the salary is not as high as a full-time job, it can be considered a weekend job, and the hired person also enjoys delicious meals. The current minimum hourly wage is 8,720 won.
I spent about an hour and a half for this wedding, enjoyed a meal at the buffet restaurant and was paid 15,000 won.
Song, 29 years old, is the one who joined the group of “best friends in high school” with me. She said she was a recent graduate and earned 60,000 won in just 1 month after attending 4 weddings.
“Some couples will directly hire people on online communities related to wedding planning. They will post job advertisements on them,” she added. Hiring people directly without going through a coordination company will usually pay higher wages.
But show me another tip: If you are chosen to capture the bride’s wedding flowers, you will earn an extra 3,000 won.
Lying to save face
After the ceremony, the guests moved to a huge banquet hall downstairs. Before long, the newlyweds began going to each table to receive guests.
“Thanks for coming my friends. Let’s get together after I’m done with my honeymoon,” Min-jung said. She introduced her relatives and other friends sitting at the same table that we were high school friends.
Perhaps this moment was more important than our brief appearance in the bride’s lounge, where only a few people witnessed her having many “friends”. Most of the guests were seated, and the sound of conversation filled the banquet hall. The wedding was considered a great success.
I talked to a sociology professor. I ask what makes this service business viable?
“In Confucian cultures like Korea and Japan, chemyeon (face) is important. Fame, honor, or dignity are emphasized in interpersonal relationships,” Yoon said. In-jin, professor of sociology at Korea University, said.
In addition, a sense of community is deeply ingrained in traditional Korean culture. Therefore, the generation of elders often focuses on a large wedding with many guests. That creates a burden on the bride and groom, the professor said.
Immediately after leaving the wedding lobby, I received a message from the service company: “Payment has been sent. Next wedding ceremony is scheduled for XX. Message us back if you are interested. ”