[ANOTHER VIEW]Beware the deadly chicken couple virusAt some time, everyone feels “daksal,” the Korean word for goose bumps. You get this feeling either watching horror movies or when you hear something smarmy such as comedian Kim Hyeon-cheol imitating Andre Kim and saying with a low, artificial voice: “You have eyes like stars in the sky at night, you have lips as red as a cherry. I can’t help worshipping you, the most beautiful woman in the world.”
But beware. They may have latent chicken couple virus!
“Chicken couple” is old Korean slang for a couple who makes people nearby get goose bumps. While it may be sweet to see couples holding hands and saying sweet things, when it progresses to constant text messaging, it is a bit too much. Kissing in public isn’t accepted in Korean society yet, but chicken couples do it. Sometimes, the woman acts like such a baby that we don’t know what her age is while guys act like 5-year-old boys. You get chicken skin within 10 seconds and then you can’t bear it.
But the interesting thing is that these couples are totally normal, sane adults in real life but transform into chicken couples only when they are together. What changes them? There are several reasons. My American friend Douglas says, “I think they want to show off the fact that they’re cool, but they’re not.” On the other hand, Yong-seok, who has a case of chicken couple virus, said, “It’s natural to be a chicken couple, if you call it that. Actually, I don’t think we are a chicken couple. We are just a little bit more honest with our feelings. If no one gets hurt, there’s no reason to constrain it. That’s stupid. And I like to see my girlfriend happy when I say sweet things to her.”
Why do Korean people have strong, negative feelings about it? I have some answers: home environment, envious feelings and a conflict between social appearance and honesty about their feelings. There are differences based on how a person grows up. A person who has grown up with parents who express their love naturally and physically may be more apt to turn into a chicken couple while a person from a stern traditional Korean family may feel uncomfortable publicly displaying signs of affection.
Lastly, Confucian values, in which the concept of “face” and public opinion are more important than personal feelings, are dominant in Korea. But the influence of these values is decreasing due to the inflow of Western culture. A person who is used to Western culture thinks there is no shame in openly expressing their feelings, while a person influenced by Confucianism is afraid of chicken skin.
by Jung Hea-won