Faced with a modernizing society and subsequent falling birthrate, the South Korean government is taking unusual steps to encourage its younger citizens to link up, get married, and have children. “In a country where arranged courtships are fading into the past, the Ministry of Health and Welfare began promoting the idea of dating parties in 2010.” Local governments can now earn bonuses for organizing activities that promote marriage and childbirth. Corporations, fearing a future of labor shortage in an aging society, “have begun ending informal bans against office romances, with some now paying for dating services for their workers.”
What’s the Big Idea?
While South Korea’s modern youth have grown increasingly uncomfortable with arranged marriage, the new methods of meeting people have left them feeling cold, as well. “Korean society is organized around group affiliations — hometown ties and school and corporate friendships — so meeting a potential spouse without formal introductions to merit family approval has proved difficult, even for those enamored with the concept.” The catch with such unorthodox approaches, said Hahm In-hee, a professor of sociology at Ewha Womans University, is that society has not been prepared for such a radical change.