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Photos, physical details banned in matchmaking ads

Matchmaking advertisements in South Korea can no longer display personal information such as a person’s height and weight, or any photos of the face.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced Friday that an amendment to the Enforcement Decree of the Brokers Business Management Act was in effect.

Under the amended enforcement decree, photos of users’ faces cannot be revealed in public through any type of advertisement that is visible to the general public. This includes print, online and social media ads.

Only the users of a matchmaking agency can access this information by personally searching a private website.

To use the services of a matchmaker, it is now mandatory for applicants to disclose to the agency any criminal records pertaining to child abuse. Users must agree to those records being shared with a potential match before they meet, in accordance with the Act on Special Cases concerning the Punishment, etc. of Child Abuse Crimes.

Matchmaking agencies also are required to disclose certain information to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and local governments: the business name, the name of the president or CEO, the location of the office, and proof of the agency’s legal standing within the past three years.

In the past, administrative guidance was given only for ads published without the consent of the user. But starting Friday, anyone can report violations to the police and file a criminal complaint, whether the violation is in an online or offline advertisement. Illegal ads will be taken down, and the matchmaker can face up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won ($27,404) under the Matchmakers’ Business Management Act.

Violations can also result in a one-month suspension of business for a first offense, a three-month suspension for a second offense, and revocation of the business license for a third offense.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family plans to set up a monitoring team at the Korean Institute for Healthy Family to crack down on illegal matchmaking ads.

An official from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family said, “Face photo advertisements have been a lingering problem for international matchmaking agencies in Korea. The international agencies now also have to take mandatory courses on human rights and multicultural society issues to do business.”

The amended regulations will help the ministry keep a close eye on international matchmaking agencies, the official explained, while also giving proper guidance to national agencies throughout the country.

By Kim Hae-yeon (
Korea Herald daum