Eating through the screen: Mukbang

I like eating. I like watching people cook food. And as I’ve recently found out, I apparently also like people eating food.

Although I’ve known of this phenomenon for a while, I never actually watched one until around last week. I may have ended up subscribing to too many channels because it was pretty fascinating.

Thrillest.com describes it as the “latest online craze”. Independent.co.uk calls it “gastronomic voyeurism”. Cnn.com: “a bizarre fad”.

So what is mukbang?

먹방 (mukbang) is a shortened form of 먹다 (to eat) and 방송 (broadcast). People possessing huge appetites and/or a talent for eating deliciously stream their sessions wherein they eat huge amounts of food.

Another use for the word mukbang is when an idol eats ravenously (sometimes shattering their precious image), but somehow endears herself to the audience. A recently viral example would be Hyeri of Girl’s Day during her appearance on Korean variety show Real Men (link: http://youtu.be/3eAfRsLsaJA?t=1m15s).

Hyeri’s Mukbang

People follow these streamers for various reasons. Of course, there’s gawking factor – just staring at how much they can eat is pretty amazing. There’s companionship – those who live alone can tune into these broadcasts during their meals. On the opposite end of the spectrum – those who are on a diet also watch the streams as a replacement for their own meals. Some broadcasters also have a side of refreshing personality (or good looks) that helps retain their fanbase.

Just like how Twitch.tv is the go-to these days to watch gaming, afreeca.tv is where most of these stream hosts reside. They earn money through “star balloons”, which the viewers can send in during a broadcast.

What’s your opinion on mukbang? Do you have a favourite broadcaster? Let me know in the comments below!

Categories: 2014

1 reply »

  1. So weird! I’ve never heard of this! But now that you mention it… it does sound kind of interesting and strangely appealing :p I remember once my husband telling me about a little girl on a Korean reality show that everyone loved because she ate so deliciously so I guess it makes sense :) ~~ going to watch some 먹방 now….

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