Thousands of couples attended a mass wedding held in Seoul, South Korea despite fears of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV, also known as COVID-19).
The mass ceremony took place at the Cheongshim Peace World Centre in Gapyeongin, South Korea on Feb. 7, where nearly 6,000 people — many of whom haven’t seen each other in weeks — from more than 60 countries got married, according to BBC.
It was organized and headed by the Unification Church founded by Sun Myung Moon, who is revered by some of his followers as a messiah. The event has been a feature at the church since the 1960s and was called “Moonie” by its founder, who died in 2012.
The church began this event with only a few dozen couples in the 1960s, but the number increased significantly over the years. In 1997, 30,000 couples reportedly attended the mass wedding event in Washington, and about 21,000 couples attended the same event two years later at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul, Agence France-Presse reported.
Those who attended the recent event were checked for COVID-19 symptoms. Event organizers also handed face masks to all 30,000 attendees.
The church also plays a role in matchmaking. Those who choose to be matched must swear under oath that they are virgins. They must also refrain from having sexual intercourse for a minimum of 40 days after their wedding.
“I am overwhelmed that I am getting married today,” 21-year-old university student Choi Ji-young told AFP. She met her husband with the help of the church two months ago.
“It would be a lie if I said I was not concerned at all about the infection, but I feel like I will be protected from the virus today,” she continued.
Despite other big events in South Korea being canceled due to fears brought on by the virus, the church still went on to host its mass wedding. The gathering is part of its celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Moon’s birth, church official Jang Young-chul said.
South Korea reportedly has 24 confirmed cases of the COVID-19.
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