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Mass-Blind Dating Event At South Korean City Seongnam To Boost Low Birth Rates

The event started with a rock-paper-scissors game (Reuters)

Seoul, South Korea:

With Christmas songs in the background, 100 Korean men and women gathered at a hotel near Seoul, hanging their name tags and wearing their best clothes, in search of love.

The government wants them to have children.

They were participants in a large-scale joint date event sponsored by Seongnam City. The event is an attempt by the local government to reverse the country's declining birthrate, where the popularity of marriage and enthusiasm for raising children has plummeted.

The participants, who were in their 20s and 30s, sat quietly next to each other until the coach involved started the event with a game of rock, paper, scissors. Soon the room was filled with chatter and laughter.

The city seemed determined to arrange the match, offering red wine, chocolates, games, free make-up services and even background checks for participating singles.

Lee Yumi, 36, who works for the city government, said she had to apply three times before finally getting a spot to participate in the event.

“I didn't expect it to be so competitive,” she said.

After five events this year, the city announced that 198 of the 460 people left the event as “couples” and agreed to exchange contact information with each other.

South Korea's capital Seoul had considered a similar event, but put plans on hold after facing criticism that it would be a waste of taxpayers' money by failing to address the reasons why people choose not to get married or have children. . Housing and education costs are high.

Fan Dabin, who attended the September event, said she was able to save money on attending other social events and registering with a professional marriage agency.

“We are facing a real demographic crisis and the government needs to do everything it can. I don't understand why people are complaining about this,” Huang said.

South Korea's birth rate fell to an all-time low of 0.78 last year, another grim milestone for a country with the lowest expected number of children per woman in the world.

This number is significantly lower than the 1.66 in the United States and 1.3 in Japan in 2021. In the same year, the average tax rate for member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development was 1.58.

Jeong Jae-hoon, a professor at Seoul Women's University's Department of Social Welfare, said it was “nonsense” to expect such events to lead to an increase in birth rates.

“In order to call it a policy to increase birth rates, we need to spend more money directly on supporting pregnancy, childbirth and raising children,” Chong said.

Despite the criticism, thousands of people registered to participate in this year's group date event organized by Seongnam City.

Seongnam Mayor Shin Sang-jin said that spreading positive views on marriage will ultimately lead to a rise in birth rates, and the matchmaking event is one of many policies the city has rolled out to reverse plummeting birth rates. He emphasized that it is just one.

Shin said, “The declining birthrate cannot be solved with one policy.'' “It's the city's job to create an environment where people who want to get married can find a partner.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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