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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hooking up Korean-style requires help

Reader poll: Will Jang Bogo and Madam Jami have a showdown?

By Jeff Chung

Two episodes of the popular program "Fashion 70s" offer something for every viewer: entrepreneurial spirit, love and violent death.


Last week, we asked whether Jang Bogo made a political move by deciding to marry Chae-ryung.
The answer was yes, but the margin was not so wide; 120 voted yes, and 83 voted no.

What is sun?

Sun, a Korean word, means formal matchmaking for the purpose of marriage.

You see it often in Korean dramas. A couple would meet at a mutually agreed upon location. It's very similar to online dating/matchmaking services but more specialized.

Sun is not native to Korea; it's also practiced in Japan as omiai. It starts with a matchmaker/marriage broker.

Who qualifies as a matchmaker? Anyone who knows of both parties involved, the man's family and the woman's family.

The best matchmakers are those who know the who's who in society. The more families they know, the better their resources to find the "perfect" match.

They even refer to prospective singles as their listings, just as a real-estate agent would houses.

There are different levels of matchmakers; some have elite listings, others marginal listings. They all work hard and keep a database of the children so that when the kids come of age, the matchmakers start setting them up.

Once the matchmaker has done some research, she contacts the mothers of both parties and arranges a time and place to meet. The meeting place usually is a famous five-star hotel or a cafe that's easy to find and convenient.

Men usually get to the meeting spot early; women are usually on time or a bit late. Men are usually in their best suit; woman often come from a hair salon after getting their hair and makeup done.

The matchmaker will introduce the two, make some small talk, then leave.

With sun, singles get just one shot. First impression will determine whether you get a second date. (I've heard of one woman who rejected a man because he showed up in a suit but was wearing white socks with his dress shoes.)

After the introductions, the couple will then ask one another a series of questions in an attempt to get to know each other. Then, one of three things can happen:

  • The man wants to get to know more about her, and the date moves to another location, or he asks for her number, hoping for a second date.

  • After an hour or so, each leaves without plans for a future get-together.

  • The man seeks a courtesy second date in which he has another shot at wooing/impressing her.

    Nowadays, sun is not as common. With professional online services, thorough database listings in tens of thousands, even millions, are available, making the matchmaker role quaint or obsolete.

    A variation to sun is so geh-ting, or introduction, when a family, friend or co-worker hooks you up in an informal way. This comes with less protocol. Geh-ting is not that common; the person conducting the introduction will get kudos if the matching went well, but more than likely will have to bear the blame if it doesn't work out.

    Who would want to be in that kind of situation?

    Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which televises all of the K-dramas. If you have a K-drama question or comment, call KBFD at 521-8066.




    6:50 tonight: Soo-han and Mina head to Soo-han's parents' house for the memorial service, but an accident forces them to hold the service at Soon-han's. Soo-han's parents decide to stay for a while.

    8 tonight: Suk-joon advises Soo-han not to spend too much time with Yoo-jin, and Mina and Sun-woo are spending more time together at work. Not knowing Mina is married, Sun-soo starts to develop feelings for Mina.


    7:50 p.m. tomorrow; repeats 3 p.m. Tuesday: Joon-hee and Kang-hee run into each other and start living together. While panhandling, Kang-hee sees others selling dyed soldier's pants. She sells the pearl and gets a place for her and Joon-hee to live. She and Joon-hee go to the military base at night to steal soldiers' pants drying on clotheslines.

    7:50 p.m. Tuesday, repeats 3 p.m. Wednesday: Kang-hee's mom runs into the woman and man who left her for dead, and during a scuffle, the woman falls and dies. Kang-hee's mom is sent to prison for the woman's death. Joon-hee and Kang-hee are confronted while trespassing on the American base.


    7:50 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday (episodes 19 and 20)

    7:50 p.m. Wednesday: Kang Ho and his gangs, including Bong-sam, work together to clear Kang Ho's name. Kang Ho's innocence is proven and he gets his job back with LK. But the gang is visited by a group of thugs when they're gathered to celebrate.

    7:50 p.m. Thursday: LK's stock is affected when Hatsushiba announces it will form a consortium with another company. Kang Ho considers going to Japan to meet with Chairman Maruyama to settle the problem.



    7:50 p.m. Friday: Yum Moon goes to see Kim Woo-jing to win his trust. Jung-hwa is shocked when she sees Yum Moon at Kim Woo-jing's residence. Jang Bogo pursues Ha-jin's killer and suspects Yum Moon.

    7:50 p.m. Saturday: Kim Myung, the new regent, proposes an alliance with Jang Bogo, and he responds. Madam Jami advises Kim Myung to get rid of Kim Woo-jing, a potential threat to his rise to the throne, and sends assassins to kill him.