Curious about marriage agencies?

July 25, 2014
d07-duo

(Duo ad photo)

By Tae Hong

Resorting to dating services may seem like conceding defeat to many, but the fact of the matter is, matchmakers have been around forever in Asia. Elders would even point to today’s soaring divorce rate and tell you that it’s the better way.

Enter marriage agencies, wholly Korean-style companies where your next date comes to you with a pre-screened, manager-selected profile.

“This service is for people who want to get married but can’t trust the people they meet online,” says Jennifer Lee, branch manager at Duo, one such agency located in Los Angeles.

The agency, and many others like it, has been a mainstay in Korean society for years. In the U.S., they’re rarer to come by, but it’s there.

While some may look to find a suitable marriage partner in terms of love, matchmaking agencies focus on factors like clients’ income, education and profession, Lee says.

Duo, an 18-year-old institution, says it is the largest operation of its kind, serving more than 29,000 members across 14 branches in Korea, New Zealand and the U.S. It also claims more than 29,000 successfully married members on an updated counter on its website, which combines numbers from all of its branches.

“This is a professional business,” Lee says. “People think of old-school arranged meetings from TV dramas when they hear about us. But we understand our clients as products. When a product is released, you need to know how the product was made and how to use it to produce the best results.”

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Duo L.A. Branch Manager Jennifer Lee. (Photo courtesy of Duo)

Duo L.A. Branch Manager Jennifer Lee. (Photo courtesy of Duo)

“It’s cheaper online, but there’s no guarantee and it’s not transparent,” Lee says. “Profiles here are.”

Clients first fill out a profile detailing their education, income, debt, height, weight, drinking and smoking habits, religion, blood type, hobbies, interests and family backgrounds, including parents’ occupations and education.

A contract pledging abstinence from drugs and game addiction has to be signed before a couple manager — “Everyone here graduated from UCLA, UC Irvine. We’re trained professionals,” Lee says — is assigned to match a client to another. Clients receive five meetings per payment.

First dates are arranged by managers after each client agrees to meet the other based on a profile. Managers call the next day to check on the results and to act as advice-givers.

“We become friends with the client. We tell them, ‘You get introduced to people through your friends. Don’t feel burdened and consider me a friend,’” she says. “I’ll find someone who fits you. Why not?”

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Here are statistics from the L.A. Duo branch:

Fifty one percent of its members are female, and 49 percent male.

The most prevalent among male clients are office workers, who make up 13 percent of the membership. Others include doctors (10 percent), engineers (10 percent), dentists (10 percent), businessmen (10 percent), professors (8 percent), government employees (8 percent) and lawyers (6 percent).

Lawyers make up 18 percent of the female clientele. Other clients are office workers (14 percent), nurses (10 percent), doctors (7 percent), pharmacists (7 percent), CPAs (6 percent), teachers (5 percent), designers (5 percent) and doctorate students (5 percent).

The breakdown of income among male clients is as follows: 30 percent make $150,000 to $250,000; 24 percent make $100,000 to $150,000; 23 percent make $250,000 to $400,000; 18 percent make more than $400,000; and 5 percent make less than $100,000.

And the average income of female clients: 45 percent make $50,000 to $150,000; 27 percent make $150,000 to $250,000; 15 percent make less than $50,000; and 13 percent make more than $250,000.

Twenty-seven percent of its members were born in the U.S., and 30 percent came to the U.S. aged 5 to 10.

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An office inside the Duo L.A. branch. (Photo courtesy of Duo)

An office inside the Duo L.A. branch. (Photo courtesy of Duo)

It all comes down to this question: What are Koreans in the U.S. looking for when they walk in through the door, and how much are they willing to pay for it?

Duo, for one, charges a base fee of $3,500.

“Don’t think of it as receiving a profile after paying money for it,” Lee says. “When your body is sick, you go to the hospital to get treatment. Marriage is the most important thing in your life. So what if you went to Harvard and got a Ph.D, if you can’t get married?”

If clients are divided into classes depending on location, income and family background in the Korean branch, they’re based less on background and more on the individual in the U.S., she says.

“We don’t specifically divide our clients by classes. We divide them by profession, education,” she says. “If we feel someone will need more help and take more of our time, then we charge more.”

Lee, who has been working at the L.A. branch for 14 years since its opening, says she sees a distinct difference between Korean Americans and Koreans.

“Here, clients want someone they can make money with together, someone they can raise the kids with together,” she says. “That’s why someone from Korea who just wants to be a housewife doesn’t work here.”

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Robert Kim*, a 30-year-old commercial banker at an undisclosed firm, is a typical client of the agency: a white-collar worker whose annual income exceeds $150,000.

“It’s for people who are serious about marriage,” he says. “It put me at ease because it’s a lot of money. So I know that girls who join aren’t just there to mess around. Being a busy professional, I don’t have all the time in the world to just go on dates. I just kind of wanted it pre-screened out, a working professional who’s ready to get married.”

Inside its 14-year-old L.A. branch, walls painted red and couch pillows pink, Lee and four couple managers maintain what they say is a 45 percent marriage success rate. That’s one in two clients.

One in two? For arranged meetings?

“Because this is a place people come to get married,” Lee says. “It’s not about, ‘Oh, I want to see if I find someone I like here.’ You’re paying almost $1,000 per person to meet them — clients only meet people they really might marry.”

Kim, who joined the service after hearing about it from a friend while attending a wedding, says he was looking for chemistry.

“It wasn’t because I had a problem meeting people. I had girlfriends before this whole process,” he says. “It’s just hard to meet people in L.A. If you go out into the dating scene, where do you go to find quality people? How the hell do you ask somebody, ‘How much money do you make? What kind of debt do you have? How’s your credit? Tell me what your parents do.’ Those things are all given in a profile.”

He started dating Grace Shin*, a graduate student studying in L.A., through the agency four months ago.

Shin, 30, said she resisted going to a marriage agency and was dragged to the office by her mother.

“It was societal pressure,” she recalls. “I just kept saying, ‘No, Mom. I don’t need it. I can find someone by myself.’”

For Shin, who had come to the U.S. from Korea to pursue her master’s degree about two and a half years ago, using a marriage agency felt like a result of pressure from expectant friends and family.

She says she came around to using the service when she realized she didn’t know whether she would actually succeed in finding someone to marry.

“Sometimes you really don’t know what to expect from someone,” Shin says. “I’m a simple person, but I’m pretty sure everyone likes money and status for marriage. I just wanted to be happy. I want a family, a good father for my kids.”

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*Names have been changed at the request of the sources, who do not wish for their friends, family and colleagues to know about their membership in the service.

27 Comments

  1. Kamila

    October 3, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    i want to meet good korean man to have a strong family!

    • sam shin

      November 24, 2015 at 9:10 PM

      call me…

  2. Kamila

    October 3, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    i want nice family.

  3. Ethel Lozano

    October 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    I want to marry a korean man

  4. visar

    November 24, 2014 at 4:45 AM

    hello

  5. maral

    February 24, 2015 at 7:47 AM

    Hi im maral and i have a friend. She whant married but cant find a good person can u help to her.
    her age is 32 and she is tall with a good face and body but i dont know why korean men dont like her.if u can help to her tell me plz.
    thanks.

    • Michael Browning

      May 9, 2016 at 5:39 PM

      I am single caucasian man I need a korean wife i’m 62

  6. Arcadius

    March 28, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    Hello

    I am hereby to apply via your matrimonial agency a serious partner

    My name is Arcadius am from Benin Rerpublic, am actualy in south africa in johannesburg, i am sales arepresentatives as profession. simple and easy going person
    am single honest and serious looking for a long term relation getting to marriage. I am God believer.. I am 28 old , looking from 27 old to 36 old here in south korea
    u can find me on whatsapp at +27747899894

    hoping soon to read from u

    Trulys yours

    Arcadius

  7. Pingback: Korean dating culture – How to find your Mr or Miss Right in South Korea? | Korean Culture Blog

  8. shokoofe

    July 19, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    Hi,I’m looking for a nice korean man,can u help me?

  9. Wtf??

    September 18, 2015 at 1:18 AM

    Wtf is wrong with you people and your messages??? No wonder Duo necessary.

  10. kayana

    December 8, 2015 at 7:23 AM

    I want to find a good man. I live in Korean. from Kazakhstan

  11. lmfao

    December 26, 2015 at 4:59 PM

    u all suck

  12. Naleer

    March 26, 2016 at 10:31 PM

    Hi.ilike

  13. Frank Harrison

    April 21, 2016 at 2:07 AM

    my name is Frank Harrison,5,8 tall,36 years,I am basketball coach,right now l,m in National Camp training for the Olympic Games in Brazil.single,honest,funny,kind,god fearing person and strong.i am here to meet my soul mate.i was in South Korea in 2008 and i will visit again this August 2016 to meet with who ever really want to settle and get marry with a god fearing man looking for 25-50 year woman.my e-mail…frankdc2003@hotmail.com..telephone +2348032502773 or +2348099344509 waiting to hear from queen of my heart

  14. tay

    May 9, 2016 at 6:38 PM

    Here is the typical Korean chick profile: 1-) money trumps all; 2-) if attractive, 99% chance they have had plastic surgery; 3-) ugly “fat-skinny” bodies because they rarely exercise; once the tight jeans come off, you won’t find more disgusting saggy a$$es; 4-) they all think they deserve the perfect man even though they haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile in their lives; and 5-) they never shave their junk; totally disgusting down under…

  15. kharen

    May 18, 2016 at 9:09 AM

    Hellow i am kharen 25y/0 single i was looking for a korean men want to marry a filipina girl

  16. kharen

    May 18, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    I was looking for a serious korean man @ also want to marry… here is my viber 09239473564…i am kharen 25y/0…

  17. kharen

    May 20, 2016 at 3:09 AM

    Looking for a korean serious man for marriage i am 25 y/o from phillipines this is my viber 09239473564

  18. gladz

    July 4, 2016 at 10:36 PM

    looking for korean man have a good heart.. i want to have korean husband..

  19. ELL

    August 29, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Hi duo i know you can help me to find a partner.i want to get marry for a korean man.i am 34 years old and im from philippines.i am a good person and faithful a one man woman..hope you can help me hope to hear back from you.thank you so much and godbless..

  20. ELL

    August 29, 2016 at 8:19 AM

    My skype id is zmell12…

  21. Tima

    October 26, 2016 at 7:17 AM

    Hello I’m an foreign girl aged of 30 years old, easy going and friendly, I want a serious relation with a Korean guy to get married with.

    My kakao id is milsuom

  22. joey

    December 19, 2016 at 5:36 PM

    hi, im looking for young beautiful girl to marry. im joey, from Houston, Texas USA

    im 55 year old , excellent shape. family oriented

    joey

  23. ruchira

    May 18, 2017 at 4:25 AM

    Hi. I want to korean men married to my sister. She is very beautiful.35 years old. I looking for 40 and 55 age men.please send me massege.

  24. Rose

    July 24, 2017 at 9:52 PM

    I am.a single mother.i have 6years old son.. too long to wait for my future husband. I want to.meet a good korean guy. I am working in south korea before.. but now i am here in philippines

  25. Elyor

    September 8, 2017 at 10:44 AM

    Hi. I want some Korean girl 20-30 aged for marring me

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