South Korean Dating Apps Restrict Mask-Wearing To Minimize Fraud From “Mask-Fishing”

Dating has changed a lot since COVID-19.

The cases in COVID-19 continue to rise, so more than ever, even with vaccinations, mask-wearing is encouraged… except on dating apps.

CIX’s Bae Jinyoung

Many people praise South Korean dating apps, saying that there are many attractive singles.


Change your tinder location to Seoul, South Korea. Maraming butterfly mumsh #tinder #koreandating #datingapp #Korea


Still, such apps are not free of catfishing.

Catfishing is a deceptive activity where a person creates a fictional persona or fake identity on a social networking service, usually targeting a specific victim. The practice may be used for financial gain, to compromise a victim in some way, as a way to intentionally upset a victim, or for wish fulfillment.

— Wikipedia

“Catfish” TV show. | MTV

Catfishing is a pretty commonplace and known concept in the internet world. But have you ever heard of “mask-fishing?”

Currently, the big buzzword in South Korea is “magikkun.” According to The Korea Herald, this term combines the English word “mask” with the Korean word “sagikkun,” meaning “fraud.”

Movie about catfishing. | Netflix

Magikkun basically refers to this new concept of “mask-fishing,” where people can appear more attractive with masks on. People have then made complaints about mask-wearing in dating app photos. So, now, South Korean dating apps are getting stricter to reduce “mask fraud.”

| The Korea Herald

Considering this, Ms. Yim, a 29-year-old woman, confessed that she rejects or “swipes left” on dating profiles containing mask-wearing photos. She explained, “Ideally, profiles with maskless photos are preferred… After chatting for a while, I ask to send a selfie or video chat.”

| Karla Trillanes via Cosmopolitan Philippines

Since the pandemic, online dating has grown in popularity, not surprisingly. Likewise, so did mask-wearing in people’s photos. CEO Kang Ba Da of the dating app Blind Date explained how much COVID-19 has affected the dating scene.

Compared to pre-pandemic, the number of users and the revenue nearly tripled. …So many profiles have photos with a mask on so we make sure only one photo with a mask on is allowed per profile. 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.

— Kang Ba Da, CEO of Blind Date

Korean dating apps.

Also, the CEO of Hsociety Corp., a company behind many dating apps, Choi Ho Seung, said the same. Mask-wearing photos on dating profiles have “grown massively.” So, one of the company’s apps, Sky People, strictly enforces that a “balanced set of photos” be included in dating profiles as well as “a strict verification system as a quality control measure.” 

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.

— Choi Ho Seung, CEO of Hsociety Corp.

Sky People app logo.

Mask-wearing has become a source of comfort for many. Not only does it keep us safe, protecting us, but one can hide certain flaws and insecurities.

You can hide your flaws and facial expressions such as frowning or smirking. People might find that comforting.

— Professor Kwak Geum Joo, Seoul National University

| Sky News

Additionally, Seoul National University psychology professor Kwak Geum Joo said that it adds another layer of security. If you’re concerned about exposing yourself online, wearing a mask can be helpful.

If it’s for a website that isn’t verified or not very trustworthy and you are apprehensive about exposing yourself, a face mask can come in very handy.

— Professor Kwak Geum Joo, Seoul National University

TWICE’s Nayeon.

Still, it’s proven that wearing a mask can make someone more attractive. Cardiff University conducted a study specifically on blue medical masks. While once considered unattractive pre-pandemic, now, it’s associated with “facial attractiveness.” Dr. Michael Lewis of Cardiff University’s School of Psychology explained that it may be because we now associate the masks with caring individuals, such as those in medical professions.

We also found faces are considered significantly more attractive when covered by cloth masks than when not covered. Some of this effect may be a result of being able to hide undesirable features in the lower part of the face.

— Dr. Michael Lewis, Cardiff University’s School of Psychology

Illustration example of magikkun| @hyunsuinseoul/Twitter

Likewise, the University of Pennsylvania and the Temple University College of Health conducted a similar study in 2020. People’s photos were digitally edited to include surgical masks. This resulted in a significant increase in attractiveness ratings of both men and women.

Digital mask. | The Sun & Instagram

By wearing a mask, it hides essentially half of your face. This lower part of the face covered by the face is essential in getting a good impression of one’s physical appearance.

With things going online, coupled with mask wearing and social distancing, we are growing further apart psychologically, becoming less trusting.

— Professor Kwak Geum Joo, Seoul National University

BTS’s Jimin in mask and hat at airport.

For some, it makes sense that mask-wearing be forbidden on dating apps as physical appearance is still a big deciding factor when selecting potential dates. Still, netizens are mixed on the South Korean dating apps’ decisions to make such a restriction.

Screenshot on January 19, 2022. | @nextshark/Twitter

As always, we encourage your health and safety to be a priority. So, please, continue wearing masks… And be cautious on the internet.

Source: NextShark and The Korea Herald

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