Monday, December 24, 2012

Ask a Korean! News: the World's Saddest Flashmob

As the Korean explained previously, Korea celebrates Christmas, but not in the same way Americans do. Except for Christians in Korea -- who celebrate Christmas in a similar way as Christians around the world -- Christmas in Korea is basically an extra Valentine's Day, in which young couples get together for a romantic date concluded by gift-exchanging.

This is the kind of image that "Christmas" evokes in the minds of Koreans.
(source)
You can guess how well this sits with Korean young people who are single. But this year, the singles of Korea decided to do something about it. Two young men jokingly planned an event called the Battle of the Solos [솔로 대첩], which went viral online. So it was actually going to happen: on Christmas Eve, thousands of men and women would gather on opposite ends of the Yeouido Park. Single guys will wear white; single gals will wear red, by 3 p.m.. At the signal, the two groups would run toward each other like prospectors running into the empty lands of Oklahoma. By the miracle of love, the lonely hearts will meet, and spontaneous dating will happen all over the city. It's heart-warming. More than 36,000 people signed up on Facebook, which caused Seoul city government to deploy a thousand policemen at the Yeouido Park as a precautionary measure. Inspired by Seoul, the singles in other cities around Korea also called the meeting on Christmas Eve.

Did it work? Well, it half-worked. Specifically, the dude half. This is what it looked like:

A vision of solo hell.
(source)
Here is a bird's eye view:

Red circle = girls. Yellow circle = guys. Yeah.
(source)

It actually was not quite as grim as the pictures above. Apparently, out of the 1,000 or so attendees, 300 were women. Also, at least a few people did manage to secure a date for Christmas, like this newly created couple:

(source)

But it was clear that this event could not overcome the same fundamental problem that plagues any mass speeding dating:  gender disparity. Even the women who attended did so with their significant others, simply there to witness the spectacle of the world's saddest flash mob. In fact, the thought that this might work probably shows why the two guys who thought of this idea do not have a girlfriend.

The winner of the event -- other than the lucky few that did manage to find a date -- is, clearly, Korea's Internet, which sparkled with many hilarious jokes. In Busan, a city renowned for its tough, macho guys, there were so few women that the male attendees changed the event into an impromptu wrestling match. In Jeju, exactly three guys showed up, stared at one another for about 15 minutes, then left. At Seoul, it was estimated that the most frequent attendees were: (1) the police; (2) pigeons; (3) men, followed by reporters, street vendors, cars, and then women. The situation was also likened to the ratio of sperms and an egg. Here is the Korean's favorite one:  "Battle of the Solos was organized so that all the singles would be concentrated into a single geographic area, opening up the rest of the city for couples on dates."

Merry Christmas everyone. Don't spend it alone.

Got a question or comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

12 comments:

  1. Was the event only advertised through facebook? It seems like a brilliant idea, actually, but it probably didn't reach the correct audiences, after all, if it were conceived by 2 desperate, single guys, they probably didn't have many female friends in the first place :O

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  2. Very interesting post. I like the analogy of many sperm and an egg.
    Have a good Christmas.

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  3. I go to Taiwan and Japan around Christmas. It looks like those countries celebrate all American holidays as Valentine's Day. On my last trip to Taiwan during Christmas, I almost starve for a day at Christmas. I just cannot eat Chinese food in Taiwan because of the 5-spices. All the American restaurants had about a 3 hour wait. I was surprised Pizza Hut had a 3 hour wait. So I ate a Korean restaurant at Sogo food court.

    I got a chuckle when I read this story. The event is like selecting cattle at the market. It reminded me of my wife's two sister asking me to find them boyfriends in Taiwan. I could not understand why they could not find boyfriends even though I thought her sisters were hotties. I am so glad I am not single. I have no idea where to meet the ladies. So where do single people meet in these big Asian cities?


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  4. Lol, (spewing tea) Ok, if any of them had asked a woman they would never have started this event. Guy thinking: Go place, meet woman! Gal thinking: Do I want to be a pizza? Very funny piece!

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  5. @N: I don't know how they spread the word, but this was a well known event to every Korean (and even foreigner) I know... Even my Korean friend who lives in Hong Kong was talking about it. I think the biggest problem might have been the freezing cold weather yesterday. If it had been above 0˚C there may have been a bigger turn out, they were expecting over 3,000 people yesterday.

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  6. Oh, and Korean, I tried to share this on facebook, but, as someone I think already pointed out, it's not working because it's still marked as dangerous by facebook. Booooo

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  7. This has got to be the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I totally would have gone to hit on that cute boy on the lower left corner with the hood over a baseball cap that covers his eyes and with nice pouty lips. That is if I were 25 years younger.

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    Replies
    1. Haha I guess I'm not the only one that saw him and thought he was cute.

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  8. Wife likes the story but would not attend if she was single. She told me if she saw all those guys, she would be running the opposite direction.

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  9. http://news.kukinews.com/article/view.asp?page=1&gCode=soc&arcid=0006754515&code=41121111&cp=nv1

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  10. I think the number of attendees is kinda overwhelming. There is really a little percentage of those who end up with a date.

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  11. It's definitely hard for men and women in Korea to be alone on Christmas. My middle school girl students complained a lot about the dreaded idea of being single on Christmas, and they're only in Middle school! Seriously?

    It's a classic case of men being more actively needy than women. Women are more verbally needy (girls complain alot about being alone), but men are more actively needy (they'll take any chance they can get).

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