What has got the people buzzing, binging, and even belching? Mukbangs. It’s a fast-growing internet craze and it comes all the way from South Korea. “What is a mukbang?” you may ask.
The Korean word, which translates to “eating broadcast,” could not be more fitting for what has been trending on YouTube. Yes, people are streaming videos of themselves eating on camera and people are watching them. However, the food they are consuming comes in outrageous proportions.
Mukbanging, its plural, didn’t just originate from people’s need to watch themselves eat on camera. Engaging in a mukbang is believed to come from Korean’s desire to share a meal with family over a webcam. Koreans, who enjoy a “family style” way of eating take pride in the way food becomes a centerpiece for conversation.
And, its rising popularity transformed meal times into the overconsumption of food for viewers nationwide. Whereas, mukbangs originally aired on the South Korea-based live-streaming service AfreecaTV, it’s no longer just Koreans participating.
Making Money From a Mukbang
Individuals who engage in such behavior are called “mukbangers” or “mukbang broadcast jockeys.” And, this form of consumerism behavior has manifested itself into a career for most broadcasters.
While the mukbang community is growing at an exponential rate, these broadcast jockeys are making enough money to quit their day jobs. Some mukbangers on YouTube are making more than six figures a year from ads, sponsorships, and eating crazy amounts of food for their subscribers. Popular sponsorships include Pepto Bismol and DoorDash, but this is only a small fraction of these broadcaster’s monthly income.
Broadcast jockey, Park Seo-Yeon, a 34-year old that goes by “the Diva” reportedly makes $9000 monthly. Seo-Yeon is one of Korea’s top food bloggers, but fans aren’t just interested in her eating-mannerisms. Subscribers are drawn to the sensory stimulation that comes from engaging with mukbangs.
Engaging with Dinner Porn
If you thought that mukbangs seemed like the fetishization of food, you might not be wrong. According to Makana, PhD, an associate professor at Syracuse University who studies the effects of sexual content in media told Cosmopolitan, “Some people find mukbang to be very sensual—the touching and savoring of food… The videos can be sexually stimulating.”
Some people have even coined mukbangs as “dinner porn” because, frankly, there is some sensory stimulation associated with it. There are hidden ASMR benefits behind watching others eat copious amounts of food.
While not all viewers find it to be sensual, feature editor at Cosmopolitan, Andrea Stanley explained that “For some, hearing fingers tap on a mic, or the visceral crack of a crab leg, or the loud licking of briny butter out of a mussel is a near-pornographic experience.” Stanely describes this for a particular broadcast jockey who receives the most traffic on her videos where she’s eating seafood or crab boils.
However, this may even be beneficial for individuals who can’t afford food, are allergic to it, or on a diet. Imagine this, you’re hungry in the middle of the night, but you already had dinner. Simple solution: watch a mukbang and you’re guaranteed a full stomach.
But, what happens when they get full?
What Could Go Wrong?
Well, what could go wrong when you consume more than 4000 calories in one sitting? A lot.
Well-known broadcast jockey, Nikocado Avocado told MensHealth that consuming that much food and producing those videos isn’t easy. Nikocado explained that it’s taken a toll on his body. “I started having erection problems,” he told MensHealth. “It never happened until I started doing mukbangs.”
Additionally, it’s interfered with his normal routines. Often times, he finds himself unable to fall asleep. Nikocado, who is known more popularly for his overconsumption of Korean spicy noodles, has suffered the consequences. Korean spicy noodles for some people, can be as spicy as a full bottle of Sriracha. Nonetheless, Nikocado eats them and even cries on camera.
“I can’t fall asleep because I feel like my digestive tract is on fire,” he says. “And then I’m running to the bathroom. I’m sitting on the toilet crying.”
You might have to leave the eating to the brave-bellies like Avocado.
What is a Mukbang? — Sources
Telegraph: YouTube trend for extreme food challenges
The Talko: 13 Girls Who Make Crazy Cash Eating On Youtube
CGTN News: Why is Mukbang so popular online?
Kotaku: Dinner Porn Is A South Korean Internet Trend
Greenheart Travel: The Culture of Eating & Mealtime in South Korea
Cosmopolitan: Inside the Saucy, Slurpy, Actually Sorta Sexy World of Seafood
Mens Health: These Viral ‘Mukbang’ Stars Get Paid to Gorge on Food