Ever heard of “mukbang”? “Mukbang” is a combination of two Korean words Mukda (To eat) and Bangsong (Broadcast), and simply refers to an “eating show.” If you’ve been around the Korean entertainment scene for a while, you probably already know what it means and have felt the guilty pleasures of indulging in one. It’s a similar concept to #foodporn or #foodcult, but for these shows, it doesn’t just end with looking at the food; the point is to watch people eat.
No one is exactly sure what caused the rise of this trend back in early 2015, but some say this one Japanese drama He Who Can’t Marry, which follows a 40-year-old bachelor who eats and shops by himself, was the start of it all. Then when “cookbang” (cooking show, see example here) took off with Chef Baek Jong Won’s cooking segment in one variety show, it’s likely that that’s when mukbang took flight as well, further thrust by the ever-growing digital content channels like YouTube and AfreecaTV.
If before you could watch popular Korean celebrities eat, now you could watch individual BJs (Broadcasting Jockeys) eat in front of their computer live for 30~40 minutes at a time. The key for these BJs is to eat lots of food, or lots of different kinds of food, or lots of spicy food, etc to individualize and brand their content. And many viewers love it because it provides them with a certain sense of satisfaction.
You just see it for yourself:
SeolHyun of AOA
Song Il Guk’s Triplets
Baek Jong Won
BJ BANZZ of AfreecaTV (and yes he finishes everything)
BJ Shoogi of AfreecaTV (yes she finishes everything too)
The Diva of AfreecaTV (crazy, I know)
As eerily fun as it is to watch them, I don’t recommend trying it for yourself at home (eating lots of food–much of which is spicy and greasy–in one sitting)—but I guess that’s exactly what these videos are for.
By Hyeyoung Jung · Contributor