South Korea has 28 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and there are 45,206 cases worldwide

By Rachel DeSantis
February 12, 2020 01:03 PM

Nearly 6,000 couples promised to be true in sickness and in health in a mass wedding Friday in South Korea, and put their new vows immediately to the test as fears surrounding the coronavirus continue to surge.

Thousands of brides and grooms, all members of the Unification Church, tied the knot before a crowd of 30,000 in Gapyeong, a county in the north of the country, Agence France-Presse reported.

Some couples reportedly wore face masks, as did those in the audience, as they all joined together in a large crowd despite the fact that the contagious respiratory illness now known as COVID-19 has been spreading since December.

South Korea has 28 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and there are 45,206 cases worldwide.

The outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, a major transportation hub, and has since been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has reportedly barred entry to foreigners who have recently traveled to Wuhan, and the country has been canceling festivals and concerts as a precautionary measure.

Bride Choi Ji-young, 21, told AFP that while she did have some fears about the virus, she wasn’t too worried.

“It would be a lie if I said I was not concerned at all about the infection,” she said. “But I feel like I will be protected from the virus today.”

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Church follower Evelyne Chimfwembe, who traveled with her husband from Botswana to attend, said similar, telling AFP that she was not concerned about the virus because the event was “under God’s control.”

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Mass weddings are a signature of the Unification Church, which was founded in 1954 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a Korean evangelist and businessman.

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Moon saw himself as the man responsible for fulfilling Jesus’s unaccomplished task of purifying mankind by marrying and having children, and wanted to “restore humankind to a state of perfection by producing sinless children, and by blessing couples who would produce them,” The New York Times reported in his 2012 obituary.

Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty

His followers, called “Moonies,” are matched by the church, often marrying within days or weeks of meeting each other, and must confirm they are virgins, and agree to refrain from sexual activity for at least 40 days after getting married, according to AFP.

Similar mass weddings have taken place in the United States, like in 1982 when 2,075 couples married in the same ceremony at Madison Square Garden, the Times reported.

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