The panda-like reluctance among Koreans to pair up and mate has given rise to a bizarre fashion for single women to arrange “Wedding” photos of themselves alone in a bridal gown.
According to wedding industry insiders, women who have no interest in getting married spend between W300,000 and several million on a shoot depending on their choice of a studio, wedding gown and beauty salon (US$1=W1,130).
Some even spirit themselves away on a single honeymoon to tourist attractions like Jeju Island and Okinawa, Japan for the shoot.
“I have no interest in getting married but want to have a photo of me in a wedding dress before I get too old”, says Park Ji-hyun, an office worker in her early 30s.
Park is on a diet and getting skincare treatment in preparation for her special day next month. There will be no groom, not even a stand-in. “I will give the photos to my parents as a gift and post them on Facebook”, she says.
Market researcher Daumsoft analyzed people’s thoughts on marriage on social media and concluded that more and more want to stay single. The company analyzed about 11 billion posts on Twitter and other sites from 2013 to March this year.
The number of mentions of marriage dropped from 77,115 in October 2014 to 51,118 in February last year, while mentions of staying single rose from 39,272 in 2013 to 47,458 in 2016.
The single wedding shots can in many cases be understood as an expression of commitment to staying single, like a kind of secular vow of chastity.
Wedding studios already offer special packages. “Five years ago no woman thought of having wedding photos taken alone, but these days half of our customers are single women”, said Song Hyo-joo at a wedding studio in Seoul. “We get dozens of calls a day asking about the singles package”.