The word Mukbang or, Meokbang, is a combination of the words “meokneun” (eating) and “bangsong” (broadcast) . Online eating shows are exactly that, live broadcasts, though now they are also very common on YouTube, of people eating food. The trend originated in Korea sometime around 2010, and has taken off globally since then.
The next logical question is, why? Well it seems there are several factors that contribute to the appeal of eating shows. Back at it’s Korean roots, the cultural norm of communal meals would be the most obvious answer. Simply put, people like eating together. In a Korean meal there is often one large communal dish, and several side dishes, or, “banchan”. Eating is a very social in other parts of the world as well, and the desire not to eat alone is probably the main driving force behind the global growth of Mukbang.
I had heard the term Mukbang , but had never actually watched one, so after some research, I selected a few popular YouTube “Mukbanger” channels and got to it. The variety in personalities of Mukbangers, as well as the foods being eaten is vast. Personally, I am averse to loud mouth sounds, or eating sounds, so that immediately eliminated a large portion of Mukbangers for me. Especially those who feature ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) which apparently a lot of people enjoy. I am decidedly not one of those people. I did find one Mukbanger, Stephanie Soo, who does not go out of her way to intentionally exacerbate the normal eating sounds, and she shares entertaining personal stories while she eats. Many Mukbangers include “story times” in their Mukbangs, but some strictly eat, the only talking is their introduction and description of what they will be eating. Personally, I prefer the former.
As it turns out, my teenage daughters sometimes watch Mukbangs on YouTube and suggested we try it too. We enlisted three of their friends and set up a camera. I made a few common Korean dishes (keeping it old-school), and purchased a few Korean snacks. They had a lot of fun, and for a couple of them, it was their first time trying Korean food.
Have you ever watched a Mukbang?