How To Catch A Chinese Millionaire

In Beijing, women take classes to learn how to charm wealthy men. Millionaires go crazy for participants, who pay over 2,000 euros for the course. A worthwhile investment all around?

Marrying a rich man has become the goal for many of China's Cinderellas (Ed-meister)
Marrying a rich man has become the goal for many of China's Cinderellas (Ed-meister)
Eva Lindner

What woman hasn't dreamt of marrying a millionaire? The sparkling diamonds, holidays in the Caribbean, fabulous castle...Keep dreaming.

Still, the chances of marrying a millionaire are increasing. According to Global Wealth Report, the number of millionaires worldwide rose by about 12% last year, to 12.5 million. In China, the number of millionaires is growing quickly, third on the global list with just over one million millionaires. The U.S. leads the race with 5.2 million millionaire households, followed by Japan.

On the individual level, every girl who grows up reading Cinderella or watching Breakfast at Tiffany's knows that it is not easy to snare a millionaire. Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly does all she can to find a rich man, including waiting outside fine jewelry shops each morning dressed in her most elegant evening wear. At the end, she doesn't find a millionaire – falling in love with a writer instead.

Starry-eyed Chinese women would prefer to avoid that, so they go to charm schools. How to find a millionaire must be something one can learn, they figure. At the modestly named Moral Education Center in Beijing, Chinese women can get a 30-hour crash course in snagging just the right rich man.

For 2,300 euros, they learn how to pour tea, wear makeup and engage in sophisticated conversations. "The lesson is to encourage women to get the best of themselves," says founder Shao Tong. The Center hopes to bring women closer to a goal that is becoming widespread in China's growing middle class.

Teachers also instruct the would-be diggers of gold how to distinguish liars based on their facial expressions, so that they can protect themselves from frauds claiming to be loaded.

Access to the moneybags

More than 3,000 Chinese women have already taken the course, which attracts mostly students and young professionals. One of them is 23-year-old Zhou Yue. "My family owns a business, and there have been times when it was very difficult for us," she says. "So I thought if I marry a rich man, then I won't have to worry about all of that."

The good news for those like Zhou is that it's apparently not only difficult for women to find a millionaire husband, but also for rich bachelors to find a suitable partner. For a 3,500 euro fee, men can also pay the Education Center for the privilege of meeting girls from the charm class. This is how Wen Wen met his girlfriend. "Women who attend the course can increase their personal qualities and have better chances of meeting expectations of men like me," he says.

The fact that most of the women are in it for the money and that the matches are arranged by the school does not seem to deter many of the millionaires. Already more than 30 marriages have been facilitated in this way.

Such courses are not yet offered in Germany, but it may only be a matter of time. According to the Global Wealth Report, Germany is fifth on the list of countries with the most super-rich, totaling an estimated 400,000 millionaires.

But China is not the only country where women attend school in order to marry rich. In Moscow, a guru teaches courses in manipulation. A woman who can learn how to be a femme fatale leaves nothing to chance. A mechanics institute in New York has long been offering a course on "How to Marry Rich." There, the women learned the three golden rules: move to the most elegant part of town, appear at prestigious parties, and work out in the same sports clubs as celebrities.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Ed-meister

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Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum


SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.

It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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