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Wednesday,November 13,2019
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Meet the New Trend, Deme Syndrome

   
 
  ▲ Here is Jo Kwon(left) and Gain(right), a deme couple from the hit entertainment,"We got married."  
 
"Because you are my girl" was a hit song by artist Lee Seung-Ki which was about a young man who fell for a woman who is older than him. Just Like the song's lyrics, in 2012, there are many couples with different age gaps. Compared to the past, many people’s opinions about older women meeting younger men have changed. In the past, such a phenomenon was seen as very awkward. However, nowadays the trend is increasing each year. Let's learn more about this phenomenon known as ‘Deme syndrome'.

Deme syndrome is a word derived from a teen in France in the, early 1900s. His name was Deme and he only found older women as his lover. One day when he asked where to find love, a female said that love could be found in a well, which he believed and jumped into, killing himself. From this incident, his name was used to describe young men loving older women. This term is still used after his death and is becoming more popular each year.

In Korea, there has been an increase in such couples since the 1990s. Despite the first marriage tradition where young girls are married to older males, a lot of young males have become interested in older women. Let's have a look deeper in the growth of these deme couples and the reasons why. In 1990 Korea, the proportion of 'deme' couples among all married couples was 8.8%. However, according to a dating organization 'Sogaetingjjim' announced in 2010 the percentage rose to 14.3. Slowly but steadily, deme couples have been increasing. There are few reasons to why such a phenomenon is happening.

First, some companies are using deme couples as their models to increase sales for their products. Nowadays, companies are using famous celebrities who have shaken the heart of hundreds of people. Kim Soo Hyun, who acted as King 'Hwon', in the hit historial drama 'The Moon That Holds The Sun' is a good example. He was picked as a model for an organic pudding commercial, and with his great acting performance in the drama and his melodic tone, he stole the hearts of the viewers who were intended to buy the product. There are other commercials that used deme couples to create a synergistic effect on advertisement. In case of LG electronics, they chose Lee Ki Gwang and Lee Na young as their models for the new Trome washer. This choice was a success as the clean looks and cute styles of the couple doubled the sales of the product. Seen from this view, there definitely exists the positive feedback from the deme syndrome.

Still not convinced? Let's look at the hit program 'we got married'. In this variety program, star couples are 'married' to each other and provide entertainment through their lives together. In 2009, Jo Kwon and Gain were potentially married to each other and showed endless fun of being a couple. The main point here is that they were a deme couple. They did a fantastic job on showing the viewers the beauty of a deme couple. After two years of constant love from international fans, they ended their marriage. However, after noticing that the couple was dropping out from the show, thousands of protest letters were posted on internet boards. Moreover, the number of deme couples actually increased during the broadcasts of the couple’s marriage life. From this point on, many women changed their viewpoint on dating younger males. According to the statistics from Saramin, there are few reasons why women would choose to date a younger male. The number one reason was that age is just a number, with 48% expressing agreement. 13.3% of women agreed that by dating younger guys, women are able to live young. There actually exist a large number of internet cafes and blogs that inform women on how to care for their skin or their outer looks. It has been claimed that as women date younger men, they wish to look young as well, therefore, skin care has become very important. The third reason was that dating younger males are more enjoyable, according to 8.6% of those surveyed. Referring from a book, 'deme syndrome' which was based on true stories written by Susanne Walsleben, one story from a 50 year old woman claim that there is more fire in love when dating younger men. Let's take a different view and have a look at why men would prefer dating older women. According to Saramin, 52.6% of men claimed that age is just a number, which was comparatively higher than women. Apart from this, 13.3% claimed that relationships with older women were more comfortable. Men felt comfortable since older women had more experience and was more mature. From this survey the statistics have shown that both young men and old women prefer each other.  Apart from this, the change in how people see deme couples reflects a significant difference from the past. People in the past had a view that men had to be the person who brings in the most money to the household. This made it difficult for deme couples to exist. In 1900s, dating older female was a bit frowned upon since there was a difference in the age which would lead to early marriage. For an early marriage to happen, the deme couples needed to have steady income which was impossible since the backbone of a household, the male, was still young. However, nowadays, women have gained more social authority which enables a reduction of the financial burden a deme couple would have had in the past. As time goes by, men have less and less chances in getting a job in society, which led to decrease in the economic activity of males. However, according to the Korean Economically Active Population Survey, women’s economic activity has been steadily increasing from 49.2% to 49.7 over the past two years. As women gain more and more social economic power, they have created greater opportunities for themselves society and thus a stable income. A survey done by 'Job Korea', a job portal website, also supports this idea. Out of 300 unmarried employees, about 65.7% have claimed that they do not care about being a deme couple. Reflecting from this viewpoint, we can see the change in social perspectives. What we need to realize is that deme couple is on the rise again. As age is just a number, do not be afraid of going out with an older woman or a younger man. Instead of being worried why don't we adapt to the social changes that is occurring around the nation?

Lee Dong-jun  jack222@dongguk.edu

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