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Filmmaker to Say 50th 'I Do' in Times Square

By DNAinfo Staff on March 15, 2011 12:56pm

By Tara Kyle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

TRIBECA — When filmmaker Maria Yoon ties the knot in Times Square this May, it won't be the first time — it will be for the 50th.

Yoon, 39, moved with her parents from Korea to New York in the late 1970s. And like many women in their 30s, she has felt an intense parental pressure to settle into married life.

But Yoon dealt with her anxiety in an unconventional way — by traveling to every state in the union for a separate marriage ceremony, and capturing each experience on film.

A 17-minute mini documentary of those weddings, staged over seven years, will screen Friday night at Chelsea Clearview Cinemas, as part of the Korean American Film Festival New York.

Yoon's Wyoming wedding — to a fifth-generation cowboy — was one of her most memorable.
Yoon's Wyoming wedding — to a fifth-generation cowboy — was one of her most memorable.
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Courtesy of Maria the Korean Bride

Yoon found her wedding partners, who include men, women and, in a few cases, inanimate objects, through a mix of raffles, online ads and chance encounters. She hasn't stayed in touch with all of them — a few stood her up at the altar, or disappeared right after the ceremony — but said she has fond memories of many.

Although she acknowledged she has faced criticism and been "called all kinds of names," Yoon insists her work isn't about mocking marriage. Instead, she said, it's about taking time to stop and think about one's choices rather than yielding to external pressures.

All the effort behind this art project has made her father at least a little proud, Yoon said, because he's watched her find her way through states and environments far from the family's Staten Island roots.

But as for mom, well, Yoon said she is still hoping she'll settle down with a "nice Korean boy."

There's at least one more chance for that — Yoon's 50th wedding is slated for Times Square in May.

"I want it to be perfect," Yoon said. "All the things I couldn't accomplish, I want to do it here in New York."