Weddings and baby showers are real-life milestones to spend with your actual loved ones. True, but in South Korea, a cottage industry exists to help real people find fake friends to fill seats at such life rituals.
At a recent wedding in June, Kim Seyeon showed up as a guest even though she is a total stranger to the bride and groom. She makes about $20 per wedding she attends as a pretend friend.
“When it’s the peak wedding season in Korea, sometimes I do two or three acts a day, every weekend,” Kim says.
As a role player, she’s part of an agency that casts her to attend weddings all over the country. At this wedding, at least 30 of the guests are getting paid to fill the seats.
“It’s fun. A lot of the times [couples] need these guests because they want to save face,” Kim says. “They’re conscious of what others think, and they need more friends. So the brides are very thankful for my presence.”