Dating apps in South Korea are enforcing stricter measures against mask-wearing in profile images as more users complain about mask fraud, known as “magikkun.”
“Magikkun” – a term that combines the English word “mask” and“sagikkun,” the Korean word for “fraud” – has become the latest buzzword in the world of South Korean online dating, reported The Korea Herald.
Users who claimed to have been duped by “magikkun” complained that their dates usually looked significantly different after they removed their masks.
One female user said she now mostly swipes left on mask-wearing dating profiles. “Ideally, profiles with maskless photos are preferred,” said the 29-year-old woman. “After chatting for a while, I ask to send a selfie or video chat.”
Crackdown on “magikkun”
Kang Ba-da, CEO of popular dating app Blind Date, said the app’s user base and revenue have “nearly tripled” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. He shared that with the influx of new users, complaints have been pouring in about the rising number of heavily masked profiles.
“So many profiles have photos with a mask on so we make sure only one photo with a mask on is allowed per profile,” Kang was quoted as saying. “But if it’s a full body shot, I think people still find it useful to scan one’s fashion style and body proportion even with a mask on.”
Sky People, another popular dating app, has implemented “a strict verification system as a quality control measure.” Additionally, anyone who wants to create an account “must have a balanced set of photos to be registered”
“In many selfies taken outdoors or full body shots, people are wearing a face mask so we are being flexible with accepting profiles when they have other photos where their facial features are on clear display,” said Choi Ho-seung, CEO of Hsociety Corp., the company behind Sky People.
The power of masks
Seoul National University psychology professor Kwak Geum-joo posited that some dating app users have taken psychological comfort in wearing masks: “You can hide your flaws and facial expressions such as frowning or smirking. People might find that comforting.” He added that users concerned about exposing themselves online can see face masks as very useful especially when trying to find dates like hot playboy models.
A recently released study by Cardiff University researchers claims that putting on a blue facial mask can make its wearer more attractive. The study further posits people now see faces covered by surgical masks as more attractive, reported ABC.
This particular perception of attractiveness is also highlighted in a 2020 study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University College of Health. According to the study, the attractiveness ratings of women and men “improved in statistically significant amounts” after surgical masks were digitally added to their photos.