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Wanted: Wedding Guests!

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In a sharing economy, people rent out goods, services, and expertise, and the trend has exploded in recent years. The majority of successful companies begin in the US, but soon expand globally. After all, there are underutilized resources everywhere, and just about everyone wants more cash if they can fulfill a need.

Take Airbnb, which serves as perhaps one of the most recognizable examples; people rent out their homes or spare rooms to vacationers on a nightly, weekly, or even monthly basis. The Internet taxi service Uber is also very popular, allowing just about anyone with the requisite car, accident insurance, and driver's license to become a taxi driver or chauffeur. There's Elance too, where professionals can freelance their skills as a writer, web designer, translator, or accountant, just to name a few of the short-term professionals in demand. However, perhaps one of the more unusual examples of the sharing economy comes from South Korea, where weddings can hire fake friends to attend the ceremony.

It would seem to most that hiring fake friends on such an auspicious occasion would be inconceivable. Like elsewhere, weddings are a big deal in South Korea. There is a lot of pomp and pretense in the ceremony, complete with several hundred guests, musical numbers, and skits. In accordance with tradition, immediate family, extended family, and family friends must be in attendance. It can be problematic if, for example, the groom has two hundred guests and the bride has but fifty. As a result, the bride will hire actors without the informing her soon-to-be husband so as to save face. Fake guests get reimbursed roughly $20 per ceremony, and these actors might attend several weddings in one day during the busy season.

The service that offers wedding guests contains a database of 20,000 actors who can be hired as fake bosses, office employees, family members, spouses, and even mistresses.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree?:

  1. Honesty is very important.
  2. People should be honest no matter the consequences.
  3. I might lie to avoid being embarrassed.
  4. A wedding is the most important day in anyone's life.
  5. I might go to a wedding, even if I weren't invited.

Questions: Answer the questions to check comprehension.

  1. What is a sharing economy?
  2. What are some examples of the sharing economy?
  3. What is the unusual example of the sharing economy given about South Korea in this article?
  4. According to the article, what is a wedding like in South Korea?
  5. Why would a wedding ceremony need fake guests?

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. How would you feel about working as a fake guest to attend a wedding or another important event?
  2. How would you feel about working as a fake boss? How about as a husband or wife?
  3. Do you think that hiring fake wedding guests shows a problem with society? Why/not?
  4. What do you know about the sharing economy and companies like Airbnb and Uber? Please explain.
  5. What sort of jobs would you be able and willing to do in a sharing economy?

Google Search: Type "sharing economy" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

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