‘Magikkun’: the Korean buzzword that explains why dating apps are restricting pictures with masks

Name: Magikkun.

Age: New for the pandemic.

Appearance: Potentially misleading.

Is it an acronym? No, it’s Korean.

For what? It’s a blend of the English word “mask” and the Korean word sagikkun”, meaning fraud. It’s a big buzzword in the world of Korean online dating.

Does it mean people wearing masks when they go on dates? No.

Because you’re supposed to wear a mask when you go out. This is about people wearing masks in their dating app profiles.

That’s a bit cautious; I don’t think you can catch Covid over Tinder. Nevertheless, it’s very popular. A sharp increase in the number of masked profile pics has led to South Korean dating sites banning or restricting them.

Because they make you look less attractive? Because they make you look more attractive.

Since when? A study by researchers at Cardiff University, published last week, found that while masked faces were once seen as unattractive – due to associations with illness and disease – they are now rated higher in attractiveness than unmasked faces.

But why? It seems that in the age of Covid, masks offer people reassurance and make the wearer appear caring. For that reason, blue medical masks are rated highest of all.

Or it could be because they hide all the unfortunate parts of your face. There’s that, too. When the brain is obliged to fill in the blanks, it tends to be a bit optimistic. Hence the possibility of deception; hence magikkun.

We should really have our own word for it. We do, sort of: “maskfishing” was coined in 2020, when the site Adult FriendFinder issued a “no maskfishing mandate” to curb the practice.

Still, if you go on a date with someone and they wear a mask the whole time anyway, was their profile pic really so misleading? Or maybe what someone looks like isn’t all that important to begin with.

Are you kidding? It’s a hookup site, not chess club. At least a masked photo shows a potential romantic partner you’re not a Covid-denier.

True. If I fancied spending four hours talking about Bill Gates and microchips, I would have gone home for Christmas. The South Korean app, Blind Date, has struck a nice compromise: “We make sure only one photo with a mask on is allowed per profile,” said CEO Kang Ba-da.

Seems fair. Show me your Covid pass, and we’re away. I’m swiping left, actually.

Do say: “You have lovely eyes.”

Don’t say: “OK, you can keep the mask on, but the cowboy hat has to go.”

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