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Asia Minute: Working Over the Lunar New Year

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

The Year of the Monkey is officially underway. This is the first day of the Lunar New Year---and it’s a national holiday across many parts of Asia. Stock markets are closed for two days in Singapore and for three days in Hong Kong. In mainland China, they’re closed all week. And across the region, the holidays are providing some unusual employment opportunities. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

Here’s a part-time job that pays the equivalent of 32-dollars an hour.  It starts in Hong Kong and involves a bit more travel…and you need to speak Mandarin Chinese.  It’s a position for a young man…to play the role of a boyfriend for a young woman who’s going home to see her parents in mainland China.  That way the woman doesn’t have to explain why she doesn’t have a boyfriend.

The South China Morning Post quotes one ad as saying “you will receive and memorize all the information on who you are, how we met and our future plans.”  Guidance for the superior candidate: it’s “ideal if you can play mahjong and can drink a lot.”  This is definitely gender neutral, by the way---there are similar ads for women who would play fake girlfriends.  This kind of business is booming---Australia’s SBS Network reports a single Chinese website connecting supply and demand in these cases now has 10-thousand users.

Work of a different kind is attracting attention in South Korea—for a similar reason.  The Chosun Ilbo newspaper quotes a part-time job service as saying 10% of those polled plan to work over the Lunar New Year… to avoid talking with relatives about their job or academic performance, as well as their love lives.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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