When you were a child, you probably raised a pet like a puppy, kitten, chick, or goldfish. But sometimes they could not understand your language (in other words, human language), and bothered you to feed them, to clean up their mess, and so on. Whenever you encountered these situations, you may have wondered, ‘Is there a pretty pet who understands my words?’ Now in 2008, maybe you can solve this problem, with a human pet.
Human Pet, from Paper Book to Reality
The literal meaning of a human pet is a pet who is a human. Most of them are men, particularly younger handsome guys. They try to get their master’s favor by cleaning the room, washing the dishes, and even cooking dinner for their master. Most masters—or mistresses—who raise human pets are women. Most of them are older than their pet, and also have lots of money.
You can discover the human pet’s origin in the Japanese comic book, ‘きみはペット’ (written by Yayoi Ogawa, 2000.) A direct interpretation of the title is ‘You Are a Pet,’ which is also the Korean edition’s title. The story line of this comic book involves a career woman, Smirea, who meets a pretty boy who can’t remember his identity, so she picks him up and names him ‘Momo.’ Then they start to live together, keeping the narrow relationship of master and pet. This comic book was a hit in Japan and Korea, and a TV soap opera of the same name was also produced. That soap opera was also a hit in 2003, and finally one Korean cable TV channel released a reality program, ‘I am Your Pet’ in 2007. This led to the development of the ‘Pet Syndrome’ in Korea.
How do people think about this special pet? Most of people, especially men think that it is somewhat strange, also they regard it as one kind of strange sexual preference. But many women think somewhat differently compared with men. Many women are wildly excited at this comic book, TV soap opera, and reality show. Particularly, it is not too much to say that TV soap opera catches on many women’s heart. Because of TV soap opera’s main character, Mazmoto June(26, Singer and actor.) His curly hair and sweet voice really match with original character in comic book, and his that looks opera catches on many women’s heart. One woman who likes this TV soap opera said, “Although I already like Mazmoto June, his role really matches with original character. Also through his figures in TV soap opera, many women want to get that pet. I think this thought leads Pet Syndrome.”
Like her thought, this TV soap opera leads Pet Syndrome and it is connected to the reality program, 'I Am Your Pet.' This program’s plot is same with comic book; one career woman lives with younger boy. It shows TV audience unique characters and diverse episodes, and creates new stars among ordinary people. Above all, this reality program changes many men’s view of human pet. Actually when ‘I Am Your Pet’ season three was finished, over two thousand men applied for players of ‘I Am Your Pet’ season four. According to one step of program, “There was a famous underground singer among them. I experienced the popularity of program through applier interview. Also about 90 percent of appliers are TV audience. Maybe many men have fantasy and romance of that situation, ‘If I will be a pet…’ through this program.” (The Korea Economic Daily, 2008/5/11)
What Makes the ‘Pet Syndrome?’
The Pet Syndrome is related to many trend codes of the moment.
Code 1: Pretty Boy
The ‘Pretty Boy Syndrome’ happened earlier than the Pet Syndrome. This earlier trend changed many romantic values in Korea. Ladies now prefer a pretty guy to a tough guy, a gentle guy to a blunt guy. This trend also affects the Pet Syndrome, as one of the standards of the human pet is to be a pretty boy.
Code 2: Gold Miss
Most human pets’ masters are women, usually older than their pet. Also they have lots of money, and good careers. Interestingly, the majority of them prefer younger boys to men who have good jobs and lots of money. One Gold Miss woman said that, “My ex-boyfriends always wanted to boast of their ability or wealth, as if they were saying to me, ‘I am superior to you!’ I didn’t like that aspect. But my younger boyfriend doesn’t act like them. Also when I hang out with a younger guy, I feel that I can take the initiative in love. I love that fact.”
Code 3: Older Woman, Younger Man
The older woman, younger man syndrome has been spread though many Korean TV soap operas like My Lovely Sam-soon, Old Miss Diary, and My Sweet Seoul. These soap operas changed people’s prejudice towards younger guys, and many women realized that younger guys have unusual attractive qualities unlike other guys.
Pet Syndrome in Reality
As we have shown, Koreans are already caught up in the Pet Syndrome, as seen in the reality program, ‘I Am Your Pet’ in 2007 on the cable TV channel Comedy TV. Because of this hit reality TV program, the Pet Syndrome is spreading in reality, but it is somewhat different from the media images. According to Daum Internet café (http://cafe.daum.net) research, it is true that rich and career women want younger, handsome men. But most of these women are married or divorced, not Gold Miss women. Another different point is that the human pet on TV doesn’t initiate sexual intercourse before their mistress’s command, and they start out the relationship just as pet and mistress. But in reality, many mistresses want a sexual relationship from the start, which can lead to negative results like adultery.