Celebrities Wedding Becomes Big Business

A thick envelope was delivered to news agencies, filled with documents on the wedding of Korea's top star Choi Jin-sil and baseball ace Cho Sung-min. The wedding, which is being organized by an event organizing agency, seems more like an entertainment program than a wedding. In a continuation to the weddings of Che Si-ra and Kim Tae-wook. and Nam Hee-seok and his fiance, the wedding ceremonies of celebrities are increasingly becoming entertainment events. Since the two announced their marriage in July, all of the couple's wedding preparations have been broadcast. Magazines and TV programs ceaselessly referred to their wedding, asking trivial questions such as who is to get the wedding bouquet, or where they are to take the wedding pictures.

Choi's marriage seems like a fairy tale to ordinary people, however looking deeper into the event, one could see how it is being used as a means of "star marketing." All wedding related industries including the wedding centers, make-up shops, wedding dress shops, and photo studios, are experiencing a boom. Not only that, even Japan is riding this wedding frenzy wave, successfully attracting the couple to take wedding pictures in Nagasaki. The pictures have gone out in many magazines, certainly promoting the beauty of the city in the process. A vacation spot in the Indian Ocean, "Club Med", for instance, won the right to post up the couple's wedding pictures on its homepage, which would have an advertisement effect worth W18-20 million.

Some 1,300 people are expected to attend the wedding, but no one knows for sure how many more will turn up. Therefore, the agency plans to have ambulances and medical team as well as "body guards" in place for possible emergency situation. The congratulatory messages will be delivered on a huge screen, and fierce competition is expected among the media. The event organizer Son Jin-ki said, "there have been many
weddings between celebrities, however this one is different. Furthermore, both Korea and Japan are showing great interest in the wedding."

Press passes will be given out and a press-room will be set up next to the wedding center. Computer equipment will be set up to allow real-time media coverage. Son said that he is dissuading the media from live broadcasting the wedding for concerns of disorder. It looks like Choi's wedding will be the most spot-lighted wedding in 30 years, since movie starts Shin Sung-il and Um Ang-ran got married. Shin and Um's wedding remains as a legend to date, however Choi's wedding is expected to be even more glamorous considering today's media power.

The fact that Choi prepared 17 dresses for her wedding pictures talks for the flamboyance of the wedding. A professor of Chonbuk National University, Ham Han-hee, said that the public interest and the media frenzy surrounding the celebrity's wedding clearly shows the materialistic tendency of today's consumption society. He added that a fancy wedding reflects the commercial strategy involved as well as the fact that idolizing the celebrities has reached its peak.

Oh Eun-ha, a popular culture critic, said that the people are dreaming the Cinderella story through Choi. She said that the reason why people feel admiration, jealousy, or hate is because she is a friendly figure to the general public. Cultural critic Kim Jee-ryong said that this is only the beginning of commercializing celebrities' weddings. He explained that in Japan, not only the wedding, but also the divorce is a big event to cash in on. Japan, which is already far ahead of Korea when it comes to star marketing strategies, is now working to commercialize the lives of celebrities as a whole rather than focusing on one time events such as wedding and divorce.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 03, 2000 18:12 KST