SEONGNAM: The lodge ballroom was crammed with pink balloons, the sound of affection songs and 100 singles gathering for an evening of wine, getting acquainted and – fingers crossed – romance. Earlier than one knew it, 5 hours had flown by on the mixer for 50 males and 50 ladies, held in a metropolis simply outdoors Seoul. Taking part in matchmaker was none apart from town authorities.
A rising variety of cities throughout South Korea are sponsoring blind-dating occasions similar to these for singles, determined to prod younger adults onto a observe for marriage and household because the nation has recorded the world’s lowest fertility charge for 3 years in a row.
The cities say the issue is that younger folks simply don’t need to get married – or have the infants that might comply with in a rustic the place solely 2% of births are outdoors marriage.
“A negative attitude toward marriage is continuing to spread in South Korean society,” mentioned Shin Sang-jin, mayor of Seongnam, town subsequent to Seoul that not too long ago hosted the matchmaking occasion. “I think it’s the local governments’ role to create the conditions for people who do want to get married to find their partners.”
Many South Koreans, although, say the actual obstacles to elevating the birthrate are the staggering prices of kid care, unaffordable properties, slim job prospects and crushing work hours – and that blind-dating occasions do little to handle these points. Girls, particularly, say they’ve been discouraged by the prevalence of discrimination in opposition to working moms. Others say that by attempting to play matchmaker, the federal government is being too intrusive in reproductive decisions.
However the blind-dating occasions have proved common. Seongnam bought greater than 1,000 functions for less than 100 spots for its occasions this month. And contributors have given the mixers rave evaluations. Whereas the proportion of individuals getting married has declined worldwide, it has plummeted particularly far in South Korea. There have been 6 marriages per 1,000 folks within the US in 2021, in contrast with 3.8 per 1,000 folks in South Korea. Fewer births have come together with that statistic in South Korea. In 2022, the nation’s fertility charge – the common variety of kids born to a lady of reproductive age – declined for the seventh straight 12 months, to 0.78, prompting officers to scramble for tactics to avert a inhabitants disaster. Seongnam, a metropolis of about 1 million folks, has allotted about $192,000 of its funds for such occasions. “What we liked to see was the young people smiling and blushing,” mentioned Kang Mi-jeong, head of the crew.