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[Image capture from SBS drama "My love from the star" in which Jun says "chimek,"]
"Chimek" is an abbreviated and juxtaposed term known to all casual and serious drinkers in Korea, and now it seems in China as well, thanks to Jun Ji-hyun, Korea's A-list TV and movie celebrity.
"Chi" is short for chicken and "mek" is short for "mekju" which means beer in Korean. So, when someone messages "chimek?" he/she is asking if you want to go out for some beer and chicken, which Koreans love to have with their alcohol, especially beer.
Thus when Jun, in her romantic albeit sassy role in "My love from the star," a hugely popular Korean TV series, mentioned "chimek" viewers world-over took notice.
On the Feb. 10 episode, Jun visits a psychiatrist to inquire about her infatuation with Kim Soohyun (role of Do Minjun in the drama). She wonders about her feelings about Kim, "Can dependency lead to love?" then says, "I mean, I depend on 'chimek,' too, whenever I feel down and gloomy but my heart never reacts to it, whereas this is making my heart really ache."
Chinese media reports that this single instance of "chimek" has had a huge impact in the mainland, so big that they claim it might have singlehandedly reversed the negative tide against poultry consumption in the aftermath of the recent avian flu scare.
One restaurant, for example, featured a limited number of "chimek set" for Valentine's Day, selling one thousand of them in a single day.
In Koreatown in Shanghai, a chicken restaurant owner said "After Jun's 'chimek' episode, we've had people lined up for hours, in this near-freezing weather, waiting to eat 'chimek'."
One poultry processor commented "Because of the H7N9 avain flu, poultry consumption was way down as recently as the Lunar New Year, but after Jun's 'chimek' mention, orders for chickens have skyrocketed."
So, did Jun really cause the uptick or was it just coincidence?