By Sunny Um WIRED Korea
As the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, crashes their wedding plans, many couples in Korea are either canceling or postponing them. Many weddings scheduled for Spring are postponed to the second half of the year, according to a Joongang Daily report. But thanks to modern technology, some couples manage to hold their wedding on the day they want.
One of the technology-enabled weddings involved Ha Ji-soo and Park Ji-ye who were planning to get married on April 4. They were excited when their scheduled wedding ceremony was approaching. They booked a beautiful wedding venue and informed family and close friends of their plan.
Then a rapid virus spread put their plan on hold. The number of infections rose, and even worse, some of their family members were from Daegu, the epicenter of infection at the time. They stopped working on invitation letters and seriously considered canceling their wedding plan.
But love found its way for them. KT Corp., one of Korea’s top mobile carriers, reached out to them and asked if they would consent to a ceremony being held at the planned venue with no guest attending. KT said the guests would be allowed to watch the ceremony on the internet.
Initially, the proposal did not make a great appeal to them, who believed a wedding should be something special with many well-wishers around them.
“We were hesitant at first,” Ha, a Seoul-based accountant, said during a phone interview. “A wedding is so special, especially for a bride, who would like to show the best of herself on the day. That is a matter of great importance to her life.”
But the couple changed their mind when KT officials proposed to make a great heartwarming event out of their wedding, with not just family and friends but many others watching it and sharing the joy on the internet. They said the event would help boost the morale of a society feeling helpless in the face of a rapidly spreading epidemic and almost all people practicing social distancing.
“We came to believe that it was a good idea, so we decided to proceed with our plan and hold the wedding as scheduled,” Ha said.
On April 4, KT arranged a small, but big, hour-long wedding for the couple at a hall in Gangnam, Seoul. Only the couple, a master of ceremony, several entertainers, and technicians were present at the venue. The master of ceremony was Choi Wook, who runs a podcast channel in Korea. He doubled as an officiator. Among the entertainers was a famous comedian and singer, Park Myung-soo, who came to sing for the newly married.
About 50 to 60 guests, including the couple’s family and close friends, “attended” the wedding via Zoom. Over 1,500 people, even those who do not know the couple personally, watched them getting married on live-streaming platforms, such as YouTube Live and Afreeca TV.
Just like any other wedding, the ceremony started with the groom and bride walking down the aisle. A big screen set in the middle of the hall featured the parents, who read their congratulatory messages to their children getting married.
Much to the couple’s surprise, their guests and many other people sent them heartening reviews of what must have appeared to be a novel wedding on the internet. They were unlike the initial responses.
“When I told my friends and family that I was getting married virtually, they didn’t understand what that was. Nor did we,” Ha said with a laugh. “But watching video messages from my family members and friends on that day, we were relieved enough to concentrate on the ceremony and found the entire day more memorable. My family and friends also told me that the ceremony turned out to be beyond their expectations.”
Ha and Park are not the only couple who had a virtual wedding amid virus spreading. Last month, two Czechs tied the knot in the Black Desert Online, a fantasy role-playing game developed by a Korea-based game developer Pearl Abyss and published by Kakao Games.
The couple, whose usernames are Insidel and Svetluska, contacted the game’s developer and publisher that they would like to get married in the game, as their wedding scheduled for May 30 was postponed due to the virus outbreak.
“The couple wanted to hold a wedding in our game that they had been playing for a year and a half,” said Yaehwon Kim, global PR manager at Pearl Abyss. “We wanted to give them both an experience closest to a real wedding ceremony.”
Gamemasters – organizers for a multiplayer role-playing game – decided to hold the wedding at the most beautiful venue in the game, the Grána Palace, and offered the couple’s game characters to wear in-game items, such as a tuxedo and a wedding dress, to make them look like a groom and bride in the real world. They also decorated the palace with flowers, trees and patterned flags to create a wedding atmosphere.
On May 23, hundreds of guests attended the in-game wedding ceremony, and of course, their online friends from the same hunting guild could be seen at the venue, too. Gamemasters placed a wedding march song using the in-game song composition system, and served as a master of ceremony and an officiant, who pronounced them a man and wife.
A month after the wedding, one player who attended the wedding wrote on Facebook that he would like to thank the gamemasters going above and beyond for the couple, and that it was “one of our best in-game experiences.”
저작권자 © WIRED Korea 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
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