August 13, 2016 08:07
Quick hookup smartphone apps are conquering once-prudish Korea.
There are more than 200 Korean-language hookup apps available on Google Play, and millions of people use them. One called Amanda, short for "I don't meet just anyone" in Korean, has accumulated 1 million users all by itself.
The apps recommend potential partners at random based on distance, appearance, education and even religion. Christian Date, for example, promises chaste encounters by requiring users to input their church, pastor, date of baptism, volunteer activities and favorite Bible passage.
More than 20 apps cater to the gay community.
Users are drawn by the discreet nature of the enterprise. One 24-year-old university student said, "I'd like to meet a graduate from a top university and I feel awkward asking my friends to set me up with someone like that. Some blind-dating apps display the academic information of other applicants, so I can just pick one."
The low cost of the apps also makes them preferable to expensive matchmakers for those looking for serious relationships. Most dating apps are free to sign up and charge only a small amount per match.
Some are free for all, others discriminate. Sky People is free for women, but men can only sign up if they went to prestigious universities or are lawyers, doctors or work for major conglomerates, which has to be certified.
Amanda, meanwhile, practices a dubious form of mob justice by requiring photos to be rated by other users before an applicant can join.
There are also concerns that users are vulnerable to criminals of one kind or another due to the weak ID verification. In June, a 31-year-old man was arrested on charges of defrauding seven women of W310 million after posing as a wealthy businessman on dating apps (US$1=W1,105). In fact he was an old lag with a rap sheet as long as his arm.
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