Planning a wedding can quickly become a stressful nightmare. For some, such an important and life changing event is not just a way of officiating the union between two people who love each other, but also an opportunity to show their social status.
Indeed, in certain cultures, such as in South Korea, having a lively ceremony filled with as many guests as possible is what most couples and families long for, as it proves their popularity.
Consequently, companies have taken advantage of this issue, and have started fake wedding guests business.
These businesses are exactly what they sound like. Working like agencies, they offer the opportunity for couples that are getting married to hire people to act as their guest at their wedding ceremony.
Moreover, fake guests are cast through agencies, such as Hagaek Friends, and are getting paid to fill empty seats.
As South Korea is to lift COVID-19 restrictions, fake wedding guests agencies are currently seeing their business bloom again, with couples having no excuse anymore for not holding lavish gatherings at their nuptial ceremony.
Indeed, the country has limited the number of people at social gatherings to a maximum 99, and will now be raising the number to 250 people this week.
An operator working at a fake guest agency in Seoul explained: "We've received about twice more phone calls seeking fake wedding guests than before since the government announced eased lockdown rules on Oct. 15.
"In the past, there were requests for about five to nine fake guests per wedding, but now people look for more than 20."
Such agencies are reportedly requiring their “extras” to be fully vaccinated, as the maximum number of unvaccinated people allowed at a social gathering is 49.
A person working at another fake wedding guests business added: "There had been virtually no requests for extras since April last year, but we've been bombarded with calls since last weekend.
“It seems that the business situation has been restored to pre-coronavirus levels”.
Kim Seyeon, a woman who worked as an extra, told NPR in 2015 that she made $20 (approximately £15) per weddings she attended while pretending to be a friend.
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She said: "When it's the peak wedding season in Korea, sometimes I do two or three acts a day, every weekend.”
Kim added: "It's fun. A lot of the time 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.”
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