Check if you agree with the following sentences.
□ I don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend.
□ Seeing couples, I sometimes feel angry.
□ I believe if I wait, destiny will deliver my lifelong mate.
□ I am lonely.
If you checked more than two of the boxes, then you are right person for I-um. I-um is a company that sets up people on blind dates. It connects registered members to suitable mates. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met up with Park Hee-eun (PARK), a creator of the first online social dating service in Korea.
SMT With the success of I-um, more companies established online social dating services. However, I-um is the most well-known among them in Korea. It must have been hard work for a young entrepreneur. What made you create I-um?
PARK I didn’t start with a set motive. At first, I had just a simple idea. I wanted to offer an online service that would change people’s behavior. With this sole idea in mind, five people including myself, three part-timers to aid with online communication, and a friend of mine from NcSoft gathered to create the service. That was the beginning of I-um. When I was a student, I went on lots of blind dates. However, after getting a job, there were few chances to not only go on blind dates but also meet others. I realized others might also need a service that connects people. This thought became the starting point for my social dating service I-um in Korea.
SMT Even now, there are many people who think that meeting someone via the Internet is dangerous. Because people often lie about themselves, there have been several incidents requiring police intervention. However, you have over 900,000 members. What make your company attract that many people?
PARK When people decide to join an online social dating service, there are two things they consider. First, people look at the company with many members to increase their chance of finding Mr. or Ms.Right. Secondly, people investigate a company’s reliability before releasing their personal information. I am always cautious of those two matters. I-um checks key words, appropriateness of uploaded pictures, and the attitude of its members. If someone suspects a member’s profile is falsified, the person can click a button and notify a service agent.
Also, we provide the I’m Eight service to members who dream of marriage. As they are considering marriage, we provide a more private dating service than I-um. These people are grouped and a programme is in place to service them more privately. Those are the things that keep I-um above its competition and first among online social dating services.
SMT There were lots of off-line events hosted by I-um like singles camping, blind dates at Caribbean Bay, and singles parties for workers who don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends. When I heard of those of events, I felt I-um to be quite unique. What other events are you planning to host in the future?
PARK I have no specific offline events planned. However, whenever an idea comes to mind, I am ready to host an event. Not on the topic of events, but I’d like to produce a short dramatic film. Last year, I directed the movie, It Cannot be True. You can watch the trailer of this movie at youtu.be/O6KpjowicQQ. I’d like to get emotionally closer to people in their 20’s. I hope to produce a short film with CJ E&M that gains sympathy from women in their 20’s.
SMT Matching two different individuals is not easy because each person has his or her own ideal mate criteria. It must be rewarding to hear about happy endings from people that you set up together.
PARK Indeed! Actually, when I-um was first launched, I received several pizzas from people expressing gratitude. One was from a lady in Busan who appreciated us for introducing to her such a suitable mate. I receive lots of messages from members detailing their happy endings. One couple that had broken up years ago, accidently met again through I-um. Also, one woman told me that she made her first boyfriend at the age of 28 as a result of our site. These types of messages from members make me happy.
SMT As a match-maker, what do you think “Love” is?
PARK I think love is like Bibimbap. Bibimbap has a variety of ingredients. Not all ingredients are the same, and depending on the ingredients and the amount of gochujang, the taste changes. This is love. Just like the flavours of Bibimbap, each person differs, so to be successful in love, I think people need to experiment with a variety of possible mates. Because no one is perfect, after meeting various people, a person can determine his/her most suitable companion.