Don’t be koi: Chinese fish farmer offers ‘lucky’ gift to net a bride for her son on Singles’ Day

  • Prized fish are a traditional symbol of good fortune that have become a hugely popular online meme among young Chinese
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 November, 2018, 3:20pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 November, 2018, 11:15pm

A fish farmer in central China is offering “lucky fish” to any young woman willing to give her hand in marriage to her youngest son.

In a video appeal designed to coincide with the modern-day event of Singles’ Day, the farmer Liu Yingmei referred to the much older tradition of a groom’s family offering a betrothal gift to the bride’s family.

The 52-year-old told Visual China Group that the gift wouldn’t be a problem because “we have tens of thousands of koi in our ponds”.

Koi, a traditional symbol of good fortune, have become a popular social media meme among young people and the trend has made the fish a much-prized item, helping to boost revenues for farmers such as Liu.

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Liu and other residents in Xiangzhai, a village in Henan province, began fish farming in 1993, and the area now produces 80 million a year.

Liu told the video platform that she specialises in premium koi, which she sells online through the online retail platform Taobao with the help of her eldest son.

“I am basically the only one selling high-end koi carp,” her son Gao Kan said, adding that a single fish could fetch up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,400).

Liu did not provide much information about her youngest son, not even his name, saying only that he was studying at Harbin Institute of Technology in the northeast of the country.

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She said she hoped she could find him a bride for Singles’ Day, which was initially conceived as a marketing event for single college students, who were urged to buy something for themselves on November 11 as a consolation for – or celebration of – their status.

Since then the so-called Double 11th – the four 1s signify single life – has evolved to become the world’s leading one-day retail event.

Last year the event, which has now been trademarked by Alibaba Group, the parent company of the South China Morning Post, saw sales reach 168 billion yuan (US$24 billion) – four times the value of Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the United States.

Perhaps with at least one eye on this, Liu admitted that besides finding a bride for her son she had one other wish for Singles’ Day – to sell 5 million yuan’s worth of fish.