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"Catch of the day" for Korea's hungry singles with popular app

By Narae Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Koreans, who lunch religiously between midday and 1 p.m., can now get an extra treat through a smartphone app that promises to help singles find their one true love.

In a country with the longest working hours among rich industrialised nations, and where 8 million of its 50 million people are thought to be single, the i-um app, which means "to connect", offers detailed profiles and photographs to help match up busy singles.

Subscribers register and submit photographs and personal information.

Then at exactly 12:30 p.m. each day they receive a message through a stylised "lunchbox" showing the match of the day - and if both parties click "okay", they receive the other's name and phone number.

"At 12:30 p.m., the hour and the minute hand make a straight line. That means that both the man and the woman we connect can become one," said Park Hee-eun, who founded the company that developed the app in 2011.

"We (also) chose 12:30 p.m. because it is when people are most relaxed so they can just open the lunch box we deliver in a laid-back manner."

The app now has 800,000 subscribers and Park says that so far, 56 people have successfully found mates.

"App dating was my last-ditch effort, (I was) grabbing at straws," said Lee Ji-sun, a 33-year-old businesswoman who last month married the man she met through the app.

(Reporting By Narae Kim; Editing By Elaine Lies)

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