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S. Korea statistics body rejects false posts on ‘newlyweds age gap’ in wealthy Seoul district

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Brides in South Korea’s wealthy Gangnam district did not have a bigger age gap with their husbands than the national average, according to 2019 government statistics, contrary to Facebook posts sharing incorrect figures and accusing younger women in the area of marrying rich, older men. Official data in fact showed Gangnam brides were on average 2.1 years younger than their grooms, compared to the national average of 2.8 years younger.

“Average age difference between newlywed couples in Gangnam,” reads a Korean-language post on the Dogdrip online forum from March 10.

It shares a chart that appears to show data from 2019 on the age gap between newlywed brides and grooms in South Korea.

According to the chart, South Korean men were on average 3.1 years older than their brides, with the age gap rising to 6.4 years in Seoul’s affluent Gangnam district.

The chart also lists supposed age difference in various Gangnam neighbourhoods. In Apujeong-dong and Samseong-dong — known for financial firms and a cluster of plastic surgery clinics — the average gap rose to more than eight years.

The chart is credited to Statistics Korea and Seoul’s statistics database.

<span>Screenshot of the false post on the South Korean forum Dogdrip, captured March 21, 2024</span>

Screenshot of the false post on the South Korean forum Dogdrip, captured March 21, 2024

The chart circulated on various South Korean online forums since at least 2021, including here and here as well as here on Facebook.

Comments on many posts pointed to the chart as evidence that Gangman women were attracted to marrying older men for their wealth.

“Data doesn’t lie. At the end of the day, women care more about money than looks,” one user wrote.

“It’s natural for competent men to desire younger brides,” another said.

Online misogyny is rampant in the South Korea. Companies in the East Asian country accused of endorsing “extreme feminism” have faced boycotts and issued public apologies.

Baseless figures

A spokesperson for Statistics Korea told AFP it did not publish the statistics.

The chart “does not match official data, which in fact shows the national average age gap between newlyweds in 2019 was 2.8 years, while in Gangnam district the average was 2.1 years,” they said.

They cited official 2019 data from the Korean Statistical Information Service, which listed the mean age of grooms at first marriage in Gangnam district as 34.24, and brides at 32.14 — a difference of around 2.1 years (archived link).

Below is a screenshot of official data released by the agency with the details about Gangnam district highlighted by AFP:

<span>Screenshot of 2019 marriage data published by Statistics Korea </span>

Screenshot of 2019 marriage data published by Statistics Korea

Seoul city’s official statistics database — which is also cited as a source in the false posts — published the same figures (archived link)

The Statistics Korea spokesperson said the agency “does not release information on the ages of newlyweds on the level of subdivisions pertaining to individual towns (eup, myeon) or neighbourhoods (dong), only on the county (gun) or city (si) level or above.” (archived link).

AFP previously debunked various claims targeting South Korean women, including here and here.

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