- Aug 21, 2019
I’ve been curious about mukbang recently. It’s an online phenomenon originating in Korea where a host eats an obscene amount of food for a live audience, although it’s also on YouTube now in the form of edited videos. The hosts will often consume several days worth of calories in one sitting. Initially, I became interested in mukbang as a kind of grotesque fascination, but now I’m curious about what started it. I’ve read a variety of explanations. Historical explanations relating to post-war food shortages. Cultural explanations relating to the increasing isolation in a country that treasures social eating. Psychological explanations that basically say it’s all about the viewers’ vicarious thrill or that there’s even a similarity to ASMR videos. I’ve also read that there’s a kind of progressive, gender role reversal element to mukbang – seeing a woman devour a massive amount of food, something that might otherwise be discouraged as unfeminine. I suppose there’s nothing barring it from being a combination of these explanations, although it still doesn’t really explain how it all started. This is one of those late-night thoughts like, “Who first figured out you could eat oysters?”. Who first decided to live-stream themselves eating several times their daily recommended amount of calories and why? I also wonder about the monetization aspect. Who figured out they could make money from mukbang?