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Cheating website predicts success in Korea

Canadian-based cheating website Ashley Madison on Tuesday celebrated its resumption of services “in a very viable market” in Korea.

Ashley Madison, a pro-adultery platform and dating website, was banned by the Korean government after two weeks of successful service in March 2014 for its potentially negative impact on Korean society, in which adultery was still illegal at the time.

However, the law was changed in February this year when South Korea’s constitutional court overturned a 62-year-old law that made adultery a crime.

As a result, the website -- under the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair!” -- reopened in Korea on March 11, and has garnered $400,000 in revenue and signed up some 100,000 new subscribers within the first two weeks. Ashley Madison Korea has 194,900 members as of Tuesday. 

Christopher Kraemer speaks during a press conference held at a hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. (Medicom)
Christopher Kraemer speaks during a press conference held at a hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. (Medicom)
“We clearly see that there is the need for this kind of service in this country,” said communications director Christopher Kraemer during a press conference held at a hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. He spoke on behalf of the company in place of CEO Noel Biderman, who was said to be sick.

“In five years at the latest, Korea will be our top three markets worldwide, with an annual revenue of 8.3 billion won ($7.6 million),” Kraemer said.

“We predict Korea will break the record for getting 1 million members in the fastest time, beating Japan,” added Kraemer, who said its Japanese unit had hit the record in eight months.

Ashley Madison said the newly-resumed Korean operation will have some 1.6 million members by the end of this year.

“We provide a safe and discrete platform to allow like-minded adults to communicate. It comes down to a person’s freedom of choices to decide what he or she wants to do,” Kraemer said.

The company said the website merely mirrors a changing Korean society and the demand of its people. “We cannot convince people to have an affair if they are happily married,” said Paul Keable, vice president of communications. “People (in Korea) are already having an affair, and we are only providing a platform that is safe and preserves marriage.”

He said that many people who have an affair don’t want to leave their family. “They want to become a better husband, a better wife, mom and dad.”

Ashley Madison Korean website
Ashley Madison Korean website
Korean users of the website are said to have a higher disposable income compared with other countries. People who earn more than $75,000 in disposable income make up 50 percent of male members and 49 percent of female members, the company said.

As for educational background, 78 percent of male and 83 percent of female have college degrees or higher in Korea, about 20 percent higher than the global average. 

Regarding privacy concerns, company officials seemed confident that their system can protect personal information from being leaked.

“We don’t take your personal information. The closest thing is the postal code to connect with people in the same region,” said Keable. “If anyone believes anytime that anonymity is at risk, we will not be successful.”

Ashley Madison, an estimated $140 billion enterprise that launched in Canada in 2001, operates in 46 countries with 34 million in membership. About 70 percent of its members are men, according to U.S. media last year.

By Yoon Sarah (sarah356@heraldcorp.com) and Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)



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