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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, September 17, 2006

K-drama fans buzz about sun at party

By Jeff Chung

The comical drama “Please Come Back, Soon-ae” continues at 7:50 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday on KBFD.

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On Sept. 9, local K-drama fan Karen Tamabayashi-Higuchi threw a launch party at Morton's for her new Web site, an American fan club for hallyu star Ryu Siwon. The actor's role in the series "Wedding" touched Tamabayashi-Higuchi at a difficult time in her life, motivating her to give back to Ryu.

"I wanted to contribute somehow to the success of Ryu Siwon," she said, so she created www.ryusiwonusa.com at her own expense.

At the reception, aside from questions on Korean culture and dramas, a big topic of conversation was my new single status and sun — Korea's version of matchmaking — which often pops up in K-dramas (sun, not my marital status).

Sun — a blind date aimed at producing a marriage — may be part of traditional South Korean culture, but it's basically no different from online dating services such as Match.com.

Local K-drama fans' biggest misconception of sun is that the people on the date are obligated to marry.

The process starts with a broker who could be a friend, co-worker, family member or professional. The broker, who would know both parties involved, sets up an introduction. Professionals charge both parties a fee. If a couple ends up marrying, the broker gets a bonus determined by the families' social status (brokers match couples by social status and personality).

The broker has to get the consent of both adults and/or their parents. The broker screens candidates and makes sure there are no conflicts between the couple or families. A typical first-time sun would be at a hotel coffee shop on a Sunday (because it's assumed both parties are busy during the week).

If you were to visit a hotel coffee shop on a Sunday and see a well-dressed couple being very courteous to each other, it's more than likely that they are on a sun. The broker shows up early and asks that the man do the same, as keeping a woman waiting is rude. The broker makes introductions, pays compliments to each party, makes ice-breaking small talk, then leaves.

Individuals have the final say in whether they want further dates. The second (and more casual) meeting usually serves as the personality compatibility test. If all goes well, there will be a third date, at which time, in some instances, a decision could be made. A meeting of the parents may be the next step and, within a few months, marriage.

There are arguments as to whether suns are effective. I simply see them as a way for people to meet.

I know people who married after a sun. I'm not aware of any statistics that track the success rate of sun marriages, but they're still done in Korea today.

Some of the benefits of sun is that the parents, aware of the arrangements, are likely to favor the marriage. In dramas, it's always an issue when parents don't approve of a marriage. Also, for indecisive types, a sun may be the nudge that they need.

I have been on a sun while visiting South Korea. I, too, had seen the dating ritual on Korean dramas and was curious. One Sunday, I had a lunch appointment with some relatives at the Hyatt hotel in Seoul and a 2 p.m. sun at the Hilton hotel. After the lunch, as I waited for my ride to the Hilton, I noticed a young woman in a purple (Escada?) outfit with perfectly coiffed hair and immaculate makeup get into a car.

I got to the Hilton and waited for my blind date. I was surprised to see the same young woman in the purple outfit sit at my table. I assumed that she must have had her hair and makeup done at the Hyatt or had lunch there. After the introduction, we were left alone. I asked her: "Weren't you at the Hyatt today around lunch?" The woman turned red and replied "No." I moved on to other small talk, then we parted ways.

Later that night, the broker called me saying that my date wanted to apologize. She was at the Hyatt earlier that day and had lied in embarrassment. She was evidently on another sun before seeing me. I didn't get a second date.

Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which televises Korean dramas. Have a K-drama question or comment? Reach him at 521-8066 or jeffchung@kbfd .com.

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Tonight at 7: Seolchill is happy to see Hanam again. They go to a tent bar. Seolchill still treats him like her subordinate. Michill begs with Ilhan to forgive her.

Tonight at 8: Seolchill and Michill go to see Soohan when they find out Dukchill is about to get a divorce. Chansoon gives Jongchill a list of outrageous dowry items to scare her off.



Tomorrow at 7:50 p.m.: Cho-eun tells Soon-ae to stop seeing Hyun-woo. Cho-eun makes Il-seok's birthday dinner with help from Jung-sook. Il-seok's mother is impressed with Cho-eun's mandoo.

Tuesday at 7:50 p.m.: Soon-ae tries to break up with Hyun-woo. Dae-sook is swindled and loses all her savings. She runs into Hyun-jong.



Wednesday at 7:50 p.m.: Eun-hwan is worried sick when the children don't come home. Tae-soo finds the kids at Jung-ja's father's billiards joint. Eun-hwan sets rules regarding the children.

Thursday at 7:50 p.m.: The family is shocked to hear Tae-joon had been beaten up. Tae-soo finds out who was behind the assault. Tae-joon's mother reads the article about Mi-ja's pregnancy.



Friday at 7:50 p.m.: Gun tells Haneul he'll take care of everything. Gun hands a savings book and an airplane ticket to Hyoju. Dongha's heart breaks when he sees the ring and Haneul's resignation letter. Haneul learns who her real father is.

Saturday at 7:50 p.m.: Haneul goes to Jinkwon's funeral alone. Gun rushes to the hospital when he learns Hyoju's life is in danger. Hyoju asks Gun to return to Australia with her.