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Modern Matchmaking: A Korean-American Girl’s Shot at Love

February 14, 2010  
Filed under Global Spotlight

By Robyn Chong

Korean Matchmaking

Korean Matchmaking

Where does a thirty-something, single Korean-American girl go to meet her Prince Charming in a city full of young Rapunzels? One option is to leave it to the professionals. My parents believed that I would share Rapunzel’s fate. She was rescued by Prince Charming. Of course, my parents completely overlooked the fact that Rapunzel lived in fantasyland while I lived in a land of reality bites.

In traditional Korean culture, it used to be considered an atrocity if a girl had no suitor by her 25th birthday; an unbearable shame to the family if she was still single in her thirties; and “a lost cause” if any of her younger siblings got married before her. Any female over 30 was deemed un-marriageable and unwanted by any man, for surely the hysteria of being a single female for so long has gotten to her.  

Some Korean Americans in the States have grown up in conservative households where dating was frowned upon and studying was highly emphasized. So naturally many of them have become men and women astute in their careers, but single—single with parents who seem to have uncanny and primordial compulsions to do everything in their power to pair off their children as quickly as possible. This is to “save face” and deliver their children from a lifetime of singlehood.


So on September 26, 2009, 5 p.m., I reluctantly found myself among 60 singles in the Seoul Garden Hotel suite set up by Wedian, a Korean American professional match-making company. Wedian provides two services: a one-time blind date group dinner for a fee of $120, and a one-year membership costing $1200 which sets up unlimited blind dates whenever a suitable candidate is available. It reviews a candidate’s age, education and income, conducts background checks, weeds out the less desirable matches, and then provides a meeting opportunity.  

That evening I was given a program sheet that included names and job descriptions of male candidates. I was encouraged to take notes so that I could mark my best three candidates by the end of the night. The sheet was then to be returned and used to establish matches.  

The first round of interviews began promptly at 6 p.m., at which point we each got a chance to converse with one person for five minutes. The guys rotated from table to table, with breaks in between. I met 30 men that night, ranging from an anesthesiologist, a handful of lawyers, entrepreneurs, to even an ex-date.  

An overwhelming number of single Koreans are well beyond the traditional marrying age, according to statistics reported by the The Korea Herald. And factors such as an increase in cohabitation, prioritization of career, extended education, high divorce rates, and acceptance of in vitro fertilization are not helping. The rising earning power of the Korean woman is slowly changing views of the Korean female prototype. Many women will now choose to remain unmarried rather than give in to social and parental pressures by settling down with someone they don’t really love.  

In what was traditionally only a guy’s role in the strongly hierarchical Korean society, more women are actively voicing their interest and preference in dating and taking the initiative. This new aggressive behavior by women has, I believe, subdued the men, and they’ve become the passive ones.  

Ironically, as the line between the traditional roles of men and women has become more blurred, a higher number of Korean Americans are seeking out professional match-making services as in the traditional days. Many spend hours at work and don’t have the time or the energy to look for that special someone.  

By the end of the night, three guys asked for my number. One swore his dying allegiance and another tried serenading me with a Kings of Leon song. There were no fireworks or birds singing in the background, just a regular round of speed dating where I could bypass the tedious screening processes of online dating.  

I definitely gave my two matches a decent shot at love—and without success. But I don’t think that I would come back again for round two. I will let fate rescue me from a lifetime of singlehood. Even at 33, I still want to believe in fairy tales.


10 Responses to “Modern Matchmaking: A Korean-American Girl’s Shot at Love”
  1. hetero says:

    It is useful to try everything in practice anyway and I like that here it’s always possible to find something new. 🙂

  2. silentpr says:

    One of my friends already told me about this place and I do not regret that I found this article.

  3. hsubear says:

    wow i really identify with many of the viewpoints in this article

  4. andrew says:

    was just randomly googling matchmaking b/c im going thru the same proverbial mess.. where your parents push upon random strangers up in your grill where it is quite uncomfy.. im 32 but rather have fate happen then something forced. hopefully some girl will look for me.. heh

  5. BK says:

    women..a word of advice to consider..and I will share this rather bluntly.

    take ownership and do what you need to do (w/in reason) to get the results you deserve in your life.

    which means..get yourself out there where the good catches are and make an effort..don’t be the pretty flower on the wall and wait. It limits the chances…think of approaching or initiating conversation like he’s just a person not a man..strike up a conversation and see how you hit it off..your in control not him. Waiting doesn’t work well for many, unless she’s an asian version of the kardashian.

    bottom line, get the exposure and take action..
    if you want diff need to change your way of thinking.

    imagine..same approach looking for a job or shopping…it won’t come to you or just naturally happen. Be realistic, take ownership for the most decision you’ll make in your life.

    Yours truly,
    Confidently modest in so. cal.

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  9. Thalia daCosta says:

    I am casting a documentary series about engaged couples that were arranged in some way – a matchmaker, by parents, ect. We are on season 3 of our hit how and would love to feature a Korean couple that is getting married in the US! I am reaching out to organizations that facilitate couples and their families on their journey to marriage. I am wondering if you know of any couples who are either formally arranged, or whose parents/families were heavily involved in their engagement?

    My name is Thalia Da Costa and I’m a casting producer for Moxie Pictures, a TV and movie production company responsible for the breakout hit “Arranged” on the FYI network. This series is an honest look at traditional and old world marriage constructs. We are currently searching for young, engaged couples to feature on our upcoming 3rd season. We have yet to feature the actual match making process and if possible would jump at the chance to have an organic glimpse into how or who facilitated the match.

    As in previous seasons, our goal is to shine a light on the culture of arranged marriages in modern America. Our goal is to highlight different cultures and capture the exciting transitions that engaged couples undergo as they begin their lives together. Not only is our series about marriage, but also about marrying into each other’s families. We hope to find couples (as well as their parents/family) who want to share their lives as they embark on their traditional marriage practices.

    Regardless of whether the couple is formally arranged or more casually set up, as long as their families were integral in the matchmaking process we would be very appreciative for an introduction. Engaged couples must of legal age at the time of the marriage, and ideally plan to wed between January and March 2017.

    For more information or to speak with a casting producer, please have couples email me at with their name, age, location, date of the wedding, and a brief description of their upcoming union.

  10. kaptea hnamte says:

    I’ll searching pretty girl and partner

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