Coronavirus: Livestreamed wedding, drive-through meeting in South Korea

Groom Ha Ji-soo and bride Park Ji-ye posing for a wefie as they live-streamed their wedding from Seoul on April 4, with family and friends (background) logged on to watch and interact with the couple.
Groom Ha Ji-soo and bride Park Ji-ye posing for a wefie as they livestreamed their wedding from Seoul on April 4, with family and friends (background) logged on to watch and interact with the couple.PHOTO: KT CORPORATION

A parent had a drive-through meeting with his children's new teachers, while a couple livestreamed their wedding and interacted with their guests online.

A firm installed transparent protective screens in its staff canteens, while an agency had its job applicants take a test in a football field.

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak that has infected 10,537 people in South Korea to date, many are coming up with creative ways to keep themselves safe during a social distancing campaign ending this Sunday.

As more people stay home, hard-hit businesses have been trying to lure customers back by offering all kinds of drive-through services.

Inspired by South Korea's highly successful drive-through virus screening stations, fishmongers and farmers started selling their products at drive-through booths, while restaurants prepared food for motorists to pick up.

Schools also offered drive-through pick-up services for textbooks, and some teachers took the opportunity to meet parents and students ahead of a new academic year.

Entrepreneur James Hwang, 45, drove his two children to greet their new teachers two weeks ago - at the school's car porch.

"We just said hello and had a short chat, but it was very convenient to just roll down the window to meet the teachers and it minimises contact with other people too," he told The Straits Times.

Fears of mass infections had resulted in cancellations of many events, including weddings.

But one couple found a way to walk down the aisle as planned - under the attentive gaze of some 50 well-wishers, no less.

Accountant Ha Ji-soo, 36, and office worker Park Ji-ye, 29, got hitched in Seoul on April 4, in what is now known as South Korea's first interactive livestreamed wedding.

 
 
 

Family and friends of the couple logged on to watch the 45-minute ceremony helmed by an emcee, with two singers performing and loved ones taking turns to convey their congratulations in real time.

"Ordinary weddings are formal occasions whereby guests come to eat and then leave, not really focused on the celebration," Mr Ha told ST. "But for online weddings, people are focused on celebrating with the wedding couple. I was so touched when my bride's mother read a letter to us."

The wedding is part of a campaign by telco giant KT Corporation to use its communications technology to help people overcome problems caused by the pandemic.

The company also plans to allow people to shop at traditional markets by following a live video linked to an e-commerce app.

Contactless services like these have grown in demand due to the virus outbreak, noted Professor Choi Se-jeon of Korea University.

"Social distancing is not a choice but mandatory these days, casting attention on untact marketing," she told The Asia Business Daily newspaper, referring to the Konglish word that combines "un", which means not, and "contact".

 
 

"The increased demand for untact services gives rise to opportunities to further develop the trend."

Other companies, meanwhile, are coming up with innovative ideas to keep their employees safe.

State agency Asan Urban Corporation held a 90-minute written exam in a football field on April 4, with 139 job applicants masked up and seated at desks placed 5m apart.

Credit card firm Hyundai Card installed transparent polycarbonate screens at staff canteens to allow employees to interact easily over meals without the risk of spreading germs.

It spent about 20 million won (S$23,300) to install 430 screens in its dining facilities in cities including Seoul and Busan, according to Mr Chung Sang-wook from the infrastructure team.

Said Mr Yeo Jun-seok, 35, who works in the company's headquarters in Seoul: "It's not a fancy, grandiose idea, but it shows the extent to which the company cares about us. I feel the same way when I see sanitisers in the elevators and meeting rooms."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2020, with the headline 'Live-streamed wedding, drive-through meeting in S. Korea'. Subscribe