Have you seen those videos on Youtube where people just spend the duration of the video eating? If you follow Korean YouTubers, you will find that this is a popular phenomenon. These eating shows, or ‘Mukbang’, as they are called, are wildly popular amongst Korean YouTubers and fans who watch them.
If you are new to the concept of mukbangs, let’s break it down for you in this article.
What is mukbang (먹방)?
Mukbang (먹방) literally translates to ‘eating broadcast’. Generally, it involves the host of the channel eating food – usually, large amounts of it. Before you scratch your head and wonder why this would be interesting to watch, bear in mind that there are various kinds of mukbangs.
Some YouTubers accompany their mukbangs with a talk show type of content. For example, they may invite a guest to share the meal with them, and do an interview as they eat. Yet other mukbang videos may add excitement by having an element of competition in it – this may involve trying to eat foods in the shortest possible time, or eating as much food as possible in an allocated time. The vast genres of mukbang give these videos a wide appeal.
What’s with the chewing noises?
In some mukbang videos, you may have noticed the amplified or close-up audio of the person chewing their food. To some people, this is their ultimate pet peeve! But to others, this is a form of evoking ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) – a calming, pleasurable, and sometimes tingling sensation when listening to certain types of sounds.
The chewing, slurping, and swallowing noises are intentionally recorded to a high level of detail to incite this pleasurable response in viewers. Some mukbang artists dedicate their mukbangs to ASMR food videos only, which may include the sounds involved in food preparation in addition to the eating.
How did the mukbang trend start?
The mukbang format was popularised in South Korea in the year 2010. Its boom can be traced to a wave of eating videos that gained widespread popularity on Afreeca TV, a Korean video-streaming platform. Today, mukbangs can be seen on most video-sharing platforms like Youtube and Twitch. And this trend is not restricted to Koreans – people from Thailand, India, and China, have also joined in on the craze.
Due to its wild popularity, many video-streamers have delved into mukbang professionally. Mukbang artistes can earn from the views off their videos or paid video subscriptions. In addition, they can enjoy sponsorships by helping food companies publicise their products.
Why do people like watching mukbangs?
The appeal of mukbang may be hard to explain, but can be attributed to a combination of factors. Firstly, the concept of eating food taps into our instinctual love for food – watching someone else eat incites a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Also, when video-streamers talk to their audience while eating, it connects with the audience on a more personal and authentic level. It is akin to eating a meal together at a café, or video-calling your friend who is having their meal. Of course, if the host of the mukbang is also visually attractive and entertaining, that makes the show much more appealing.
Can mukbangs be educational?
Some mukbangs have the host introducing the food to their audience, which makes it educational for viewers who are interested in different cuisines. Some hosts take their audience through the cooking process or review the food from different restaurants and brands. Thus, mukbang can be enjoyed for its informational qualities as well.
As the mukbang trend originated from Korea, there are still many mukbang artists who are Korean and speak Korean in their videos. For beginner learners, mukbangs can also be an avenue for them to learn the Korean language. If you check out mukbangs which feature Korean food and are hosted in a talk-show style, you can learn a lot about Korean food and culture, and pick up a lot of useful vocabulary along the way!
As you can see by now, mukbangs are more than just videos of people eating – they can be enjoyed in so many ways, which is why they are still so popular today. If you have never watched a mukbang, why not check one out today? Here at Sejong Korean Language School, we absolutely love a good mukbang as well. Come and join us to learn Korean together and share the latest mukbang videos!