Live in South Korea and want to make some extra money? Can you sit quietly and smile when appropriate? Then we have a job for you: fake wedding guest.
As part of a trend that began during the late 1990s and has continued until the present, many South Korean weddings have inflated guest totals due to paid actors in attendance. The average rate for this service is $20 per rental person, plus all meals and drinks available to other, real guests. Some people block off their calendars during wedding season just to fill this need. Kim Seyeon, a college student at Seoul National University, has been a fake guest at over 70 weddings in the last year and a half.
In a society where this practice is becoming more common, finding fake guests to attend weddings is not a difficult process. There are whole companies devoted to this enterprise, including one called Role Rental 1-1-9. With profiles of over 20,000 actors, including men and women from 20- to 70-years-old, Role Rental has every eventuality covered for weddings, such as one where a grandparent isn’t feeling well or the groom’s boss happens to be out of town.
So, what does all of this boil down to? Fake wedding guests, along with fake children, fake lovers, and even fake spouses to help people get a bank loan, derive from a concern in South Korean society best summed up by the word jalnancheok, which translates roughly to “pretending to be doing great.” Basically, this is conspicuous consumption on steroids or trying to keep up with the
Joneses Korean Kardashians.
Knowing all of this, you should probably think twice before attending a friends’ wedding in South Korea, seeing as if you give them a check as a wedding present, part of that money might be used to pay for that actor or actress who all night refused to dance with you or give you their phone number. No pretending that couldn’t happen.