Many of Korea's once-lucrative wedding halls have closed down as marriage fell to an all-time low last year. The number of wedding halls fell from 1,003 in 2007 to 770 in 2017, according to Statistics Korea, and there are now thought to be fewer than 700 left.
In 2007, some 328,000 couples tied the knot in 2007, but last year only 257,600 couples got married.
"We used to make big money during the peak season between October and December, but sales have more than halved in recent years," said the owner of a mid-size wedding hall in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province. "I'm considering a change of business."
A Statistics Korea spokesman said, "Many small and mid-size wedding halls have closed down as fewer people are getting married and more young couples prefer large wedding halls with better facilities and better accessibility."
The closure has resulted in some consumer disputes. Some 191 complaints have been filed with the Korea Consumer Agency over the past three years by couples who had booked a hall only to find it closed.
Under the standard contract provided by the Fair Trade Commission, wedding halls must pay customers double their deposit back if the halls cancel more than 90 days before the wedding, and the full costs if they cancel less than 90 days in advance. But there is no legal penalty if they fail to do so.
Moreover, most wedding hall contracts have no compensation clause at all, so all customers can do is sue, which costs even more money and time.