Getting more singles in Singapore to date - the South Korean way

South Korean couples taking selfies during a New Year's Day countdown at Imjingak Peace Park in Paju on Dec 31, 2015.
South Korean couples taking selfies during a New Year's Day countdown at Imjingak Peace Park in Paju on Dec 31, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - Singaporeans who are single and ready to explore becoming attached can take a page from South Korea's vibrant dating scene and embrace dating agencies, said Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo.

Singles in Singapore tend to be shy about getting help to date or look for a partner, even when they cannot find someone themselves.

But Koreans are generally open about dating and are more willing to approach commercial agencies, said Mrs Teo, who oversees population matters and is on a week-long trip to South Korea and Denmark to study how each country encourages marriage and parenthood.

"Single Koreans may be discreet in not openly advertising the fact, but if asked, they won't deny it either," she said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (March 16) at the end of the South Korean leg of her trip.

"Starting early, proactively reaching out to meet new friends, openness to getting help, and having a relaxed attitude all seem to be the essential ingredients to enjoyable and successful dating. Can this style of dating help more Singaporean singles, perhaps?"

Mrs Teo, who had been in South Korea since Sunday, visits Denmark next.

Singaporeans and Koreans are marrying later in life, which has contributed to the low birth rates in both countries.

In 2014, Singapore had a total fertility rate of 1.25, while Korea's figure was 1.21 that same year.

By encouraging dating, the hope is that more singles will pair up, tie the knot, and eventually have children.

One way of doing so is through dating agencies, an industry which is well-established in Korea.

Its more than 1,000 dating agencies are found mostly in the capital Seoul, and it is not uncommon for parents to sign their single children up at these agencies.