Muk-bang

Choi Ji-hwan

Muk-bang (Korean: ‘eating broadcast’) is a type of performance in which a host eats large quantities of food, while interacting with their audience. Usually done through a webcast (such streaming platforms include Afreeca), muk-bang became popular in South Korea in the 2010s. Foods ranging from pizza to noodles are consumed in front of a camera for an unknown audience who pay to watch the individual eat. In each broadcast, a host will often interact with their viewers through online chatrooms.

There are several genres of muk-bang, including ‘cook-bang’ (cooking and muk-bang). The idea of socializing with an audience remains the same however, the host would then eat what was cooked and eat it and describe to the audience what was consumed.

The impact of this show on Korean society and culture is reportedly due to the fact Korean people are emotionally and socially suppressed and deeply related to Asian-style collectivism. Muk-bang offers an escape to an alternate reality for those who want to live out their eating desires through others: ‘…watching someone eat can efficiently help the Koreans relieve stress from their whole fast-paced and hyper-competitive life style.’ Some followers of the show also watch the shows due to the fact that they are on strict diets and watching someone consume large amounts of food satisfies their hunger urges. Others report watching the show makes them eat more.

With the rising popularity of these eating shows, hosts are finding lucrative ways of monetizing their broadcasts. Many hosts generate revenue by accepting donations or partnering with advertising networks. One of the most popular hosts of these eating shows is Choi Ji-hwan. His popularity has earned him over 260.000 subscribers. The 24-year old is known to sport army fatigues while eating and sometimes cooking for his audience, as well as interacting with them. To rival his rising superstar in the muk-bang world, a young woman named Park Seo Yeon, nicknamed ‘The Diva’ is known for feasting on extra-large plates of rich fare every night, from whipped-cream-covered cakes to fried chicken.

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