MUKBANG

Hobbies. Let’s talk about them for a moment.

It is a fact that each person has an activity he/she enjoys. Some like sports, others are into art, and many are into reading. But, there is also a phenomenon of people who like to make every living moment of their life about food “foodies”, at least we’ve met one in our lifetime, that is, if you’re not one already. But, have you heard of those who consume a large portion of food in front of a live camera for the sake of pleasure? No, we’re not talking about the contestants of eating competitions, we’re discussing Mukbang.

Rachel Ahn, who goes by "Aebong-ee," is among the top 100 most-watched mukbang stars in South Korea.

Rachel Ahn, who goes by “Aebong-ee,” is among the top 100 most-watched mukbang stars in South Korea.

Mukbang, or Meokbang ( 먹방; def “eating broadcast”) is a Korean food craze that was nearly established in 2008. It basically consists of people eating a very large portion of food in front of a live camera, interacting with their audience on Social Media. Never to be mixed up with Oogoi Eaters, whom also consume large portions of food in front of a camera, but without the live interaction opportunity. Several Social Media platforms have showcased this craved event, such as Snapchat and Instagram, but the most Famous one is after all YouTube, where the most popular Mukbang videos have nearly 2 MILLION views! Just imagine 2 Million views for people who eat large portions of food and interact with their users through challenges and questionnaires! And when we’re talking about large food, we mean LARGE food, like portions that are enough to fill up a starving family of four! Like four family sized buckets of KFC fried chicken, six large instant noodles packets, or a whole large Wok-filled stir fried assorted creations, all in the belly of one.

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Some Meokbangers eat for the sake of critiquing food, others take it as a challenge to complete the largest portion they could, but some, just eat food for the sake of, eating. One of the most popular Meokbangers are “BJ The Diva”, “BJ Fitness Fairy”, “BJ Hyo-Jijang” and “BJ Patoo” earning an estimated amount of $9,000 a month, or even $1,500 a night, that’s how popular Meokbang is. But it doesn’t stop there, Meokbang made a leap outside of the world of Social Media to have a designated drama show just to fill the purpose of Meokbang “Let’s Eat” where food lovers “foodies” are joined and try several restaurants, giving them a piece of their mind, and appetite. Later after the show several discussions regarding these restaurants were established, and these restaurants had a large portion of a young audience trying them out as well, all because of “Let’s Eat”, or Let’s face it, it’s because of Meokbang in the first place.

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Despite that, the truth is: Meokbang isn’t about how much we’re eating, but is about why we’re eating…

It is a belief that a family sits together for a meal not for the sake of just consuming food, yes that’s a part of it, but also for the sake of bonding, talking together, discussing their day, share their funny stories, and just grow a stronger bond. Similarly, Mukbang has the same purpose. When people eat live in front of the camera, they’re not just enjoying large portions of food, but actually they’re interacting with their audience, answering their questions, getting involved in their discussions, and becoming a part of their life as much as they have become in theirs by being on Social Media. Many people became less lonely through Mukbang, instead of missing that special quality a family dinner brings, they get to live a similar feeling through having dinner, through a live camera and large portions of food.

It is funny how the most interesting hobbies can take such a turn in someone’s life, I mean, who would’ve thought that eating large portions of food could create such an engaged, excited, and enticed community? I guess, food always have a special place in someone’s palette, right?

So next time you come across a picture of a family meal, ask yourself: Is it really a family meal, or just a meal for one?

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