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South Korean wave smashes into Taiwan's wedding photo industry

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Things have gotten even harder for Taiwan's highly saturated wedding photography industry as local studios and dress shops battle to fend off South Korean businesses promising a vacation and destination photo shoot all in one.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported Monday that South Korea has become an attractive choice among Taiwanese couples looking for an engagement shoot because of its pop culture clout, referred to as the Korean Wave, particularly a popular reality show called “We Got Married.”

Even before the competition from overseas, it has not been easygoing for Taiwanese wedding shops, which typically offer dress and accessory rentals and photography services either in a studio or at locations across the country.

With a population of under 2.7 million, Taipei City alone has over 500 wedding and engagement photography studios seeking to provide the best services for the lowest prices, Apple Daily estimates.

The paper quoted unnamed people in the industry as saying that South Korea was winning the battle for the hearts and minds of new couples because of its star power.

But one industry insider told Apple Daily that a Taiwan shoot typically costs NT$60,000 (US$2,000) to NT$70,000, while South Korean shoots start at NT$10,000 on the low end and offer only studio shoots with “all the same colors and scenery” that lack personal flavor.

Even if they are not overly worried, Taiwanese businesses are doubtlessly at least irritated at being outshined by their South Korean counterparts.

The two Asian Tigers often find themselves in economic competition as they seek to export similar high-tech products to the same markets.

Taiwanese in particular view South Korea as an economic threat, and the country's growing international prowess has played a major role in government warnings that Taiwan needs to pick up the pace in trade liberalization.

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