The Food Porn Superstars of South Korea: Mukbang

The Food Porn Superstars of South Korea: Mukbang


It’s too hot,
I should cool it down. Whilst it cools down, I’m going to have
Tsgoo Yook first. It’s a sticky
rice Tsgoo Yook. So it’s really soft and
nice. Mmm. I love dumplings. Seems like dumplings
are the thing. So I’m here at Kuan Jung
food market in Seoul, which is one of Seoul’s
oldest food markets. It’s like a hundred
years old, older than Korea itself. And here you can find all the Korean
classic dishes. The kind that basically having
a surge in the west. Yum. Look at those
huge scallops. But that’s not
why I’m here. I’m here to look at
a completely new, unusual trend
called muk-bang. It roughly translates
as food porn, but not in the way
you’d hope. It’s more kind of like
a food selfie where users are logging on. Eating lots of food
to camera, and then thousands of other
people are logging on to watch them. Mmm.
Mmm. Since 2011,
a peculiar trend of live streaming while eating
large quantities of food has become more and more
popular in South Korea. The people who
participate in muk-bang have become
minor celebrities in their own right. To the point that
they’re referred to as broadcast jockies or the more popular term,
don’t laugh, BJ’s. These so called BJ’s
have learned that there is such a thing
as a free lunch. This is Park Soo Yeon, one of the country’s
most popular BJ’s for whom mokbang was
a full-time job. Better known as The Diva. At one point, she was
making up to $9,000 a month through her
fans donations. We tried to speak to her,
but it turns out she’s retired amid speculation
that the pressures of the muk-bang lifestyle
had become too much. It looks good Coco right? So this is BJ Sof, One of Korea’s most
prolific male. BJ’s.
And we’re on our way to meet him and
he’s gonna cook for me. I’m gonna be able to ask
him about everything he does, why he does it and get behind this
strange phenomenon. Wow. Oh, wow. Look.
It’s like a full studio. So, this is where
the magic happens. So, how does it work? This looks.
Slightly complicated. In the beginning I
broadcasted using a standard computer and
this web cam. This web cam has a built
in microphone so it wasn’t complicated. I just needed to get the
video and sound right. As I did more
broadcasts I became more gear greedy. As I did more broadcasts
I became more gear greedy and tried to upgrade
everything one by one. I have a very powerful
computer now too so I can edit fast. I have to connect
the television so I can read the messages
from the viewers while doing the cooking. I’ll now introduce
myself and we can begin. Hello my name is Sof. Hello my name is Sof. What’s happening? I can’t read it. She is a model and
her name is Charlet. Hi BJ Sof’s fans. Thank you so much for
having me here, and I can’t believe how
many of you there are. Charlotte, I’m your pan. Welcome to the show. Oh, thanks. They’re so nice.
It’s like a big family. Yes, it does feel
like a family. Are all of your fans
Korean or in Korea? Yes, that’s right. We only have
Korean viewers as foreign viewers
won’t understand it. The conventional
muk-bang BJ’s usually order in large
amounts of take-out food to consume for
their audiences. BJ Sof on the other hand takes
a different approach. As he’s a trained chef
he prepares the food as part of his
broadcasts and dreams of one day opening
his own restaurant. Restaurant. Work in general can
be very stressful no matter the environment. But with BJing I have
a total freedom in what I do and when I do it. Most of all, I have total
creative control without any restrictions so
I don’t get stressed. Now some pepper. Muk-bang is all built
around people eating on their own. How, how important is
eating together as a family in
Korean culture? In the past, eating
dinner together after work was an important
aspect of Korean culture. In the past, eating
dinner together after work was an important
aspect of Korean culture. At present, as more and more people are living
alone that tradition is fading and people
are feeling lonely. There are many people
who find it hard to watch a movie or
eat alone. I’m hungry. Smells really good. Yay. Yeah? This is so fun. How many people are gonna
watch me do this? Right now there’s 700. Only 700? It’s not too salty? It’s good. Why are you laughing? I’m having more. I love it! Huh.
It’s delicious! Sof is so gentle and
Charlotte is so beauty, aw,
that’s so nice. That’s so nice. I want fans. I’m jealous. As the day wore on, it
became apparent that not only was Sof
a skilled cook, but also a savvy
entrepreneur, taking advantage of the
muk-bang fad to promote his personal brand His chat room lit up
with hundreds of fans. Question is, why
are they watching, and who are they? My name is Ha Hee Gyung,
I’m 26 years and I live in Korea. I got into Mukbang
by chance when I was watching Afreeca TV. I got into Mukbang
by chance when I was watching Afreeca TV. At first I just thought Sof was
making the meals but I soon realized that he
ate them afterwards too. But I soon realized that
he ate them afterwards too.
When I saw him eating I thought he was
charming and without me even knowing
I started to copy him. Now I really enjoy
cooking as well. So that’s the end of
my first foray into the weird,
new world of Mukbang. And I have to admit,
before I came out here, I was a bit apprehensive
about what I think about Mukbang. I had a bit of
a preconception that it was something that was
made for lonely people, by lonely people, and that I wouldn’t really
be able to relate to it. But I found quite
the opposite today, I actually got
a bit sucked in. I had so much fun. Cheers. But at the same time
I’ve only been here a day I’ve really only really
seen one side of it so I need to do a little bit
more digging before I make up my mind. So I’ve come out here
to the outskirts of Seoul because I’m gonna
meet a female BJ. BJ Wang Joo. Apparently, she’s super
busy she has no time in her schedule but we’ve managed to convince
her to squeeze us in. So I’m pretty. Intrigued to hear about Mukbang from a female
perspective. Hi!
Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Charlotte.
Hi. Thank you for having me. This is nice. Good.
Thank you. Oh, look at
the little cat. Hello. Hey buddy, oh big cat. Hey big cat. Today we have chicken. Nae-Nae Chicken I like. Chicken tastes good
even in the mornings. Chicken tastes good
even in the mornings. Hello, I am BJ Wang Joo.I
have been broadcasting since 2010 but
in the beginning, it was mostly about
my daily life. It was mostly about
my daily life. One day I got hungry so I
broadcast what I ate and viewers seemed
to like it. They suggested
that I carry on with the concept so
I got into Mukbang. They like how
I eat chicken. Mostly, the way I finish
off everything on the bones. They really like that. They love the way I clean
off every single bone. I don’t know if you
can call it a talent, I just enjoy
eating very much. The main source
of income for BJs comes from donations
from the fans sent during each broadcast. These come in the form of
virtual gifts known as star balloons, with
each one worth $0.10. This might not sound
like a lot of money, but when thousands of
viewers are tuning in. That a lot of bang for
your buck. I want to thank
the fans for the balloons they have
given me today and the viewers who
recommended me. My life is
different compared t the period
before I was a BJ. I guess some people now recognize me
when I’m out. I also get gifts
sent by my fans, maybe that’s
also different. I also get gifts
sent by my fans, maybe that’s
also different. Do they watch male and
female? Or do male fans only
wanna watch females? They are saying yes and
some are saying they don’t care if it’s
female or male. It’s a mixed response but I’m seeing more
yes on here. Because my fans
are pretty young, some of them can
be mischievous. Because my fans
are pretty young, some of them can
be mischievous. But I have plenty of
good fans around me so I am happy. So having just
watched BJ Wang Joo’s impromptu broadcast. And sitting there
watching her like, make her way through that huge volume of chicken
right in front of me. I’m still no closer to
understanding what’s going on in
the fans heads. I can’t help but be suspicious of
the fan’s real motives. Can it really be
to do with eating? I don’t know,
I can’t help but think there’s
a fetish element so. I suppose the only
thing left to do is to try to get inside
the heads of the fans. My name is Gang Gun Chin. I’m 21 years old and
a university student. I’m currently the manager
of BJ Hanna’s fan club. The role of
a manager is to look after the chat
feature during the show. The role of
a manager is to look after the chat feature
during the show and to monitor
the language for any profanities
directed at BJ Hanna. And how’s your life
changed since you started watching Mukbang? Whenever I’m a bit
lonely it feels like I’m eating with someone else. Why watch BJ when you
can just watch a normal TV chef on TV? Our generation doesn’t
watch TV as much, they use smartphones
instead. That’s why internet
broadcasts are being watched more. Seeing BJ Hanna eat in her cute way makes me
want to eat with her. Seeing BJ Hanna eat
in her cute way makes me want to eat with her. Gang Gun Chin told us
he was going to meet BJ Hanna that evening for
the first time, along with three more
of her biggest fans. Okay, we’re live. Right now we are on our
way to meet the managers. The person by my
side is Charlet. Your name is Charlotte? Charlotte. Charlotte. Do you ever feel a bit strange about
meeting them? To be honest I’m meeting
them for the first time. So yes a little bit. Little bit. Yeah. Yeah? I’m so,- Nervous? Yeah, nervous. Yeah, a little bit.
Oh. Why?
Because I’ve only interacted with them
while chatting online. Mm hm,
This is the first time meeting them in person. Do you have, I,
I mean you said you have problems with fans
getting obsessive. Has that ever been a problem when you’re
out in public? It’s not so much a
problem in public places, but occasionally I’ll
get fans who try to find out where I live and
go looking for me. But occasionally I’ll
get fans who try to find out where I live and
go looking for me. I’ve had to move house
for that reason before. We’re about to arrive
at the restaurant. I’m embarrassed. Let’s greet each
other naturally. Hello.
Let’s greet each other
naturally. Hello.
My clothes are too big. This is for Doo San. So you’re Doo San. I think this one is for
Seu Rang. Yeah I’m worried I
look different than I do on the camera. You’re asking that
question already? And you can’t even lie. Tell me I’m pretty. Quickly. I feel like I haven’t been
broadcasting. Here, have this Sam. Thank you! Thank you! Let’s all do this. I love you. Well, that was
a novel experience. Super awkward. I obviously just felt
like I was the third wheel on a first date
with those guys, but that, what about the fact
that they couldn’t draw their eyes away
from their phones. The whole time they
were locked in to the broadcast like that
was their comfort zone, you know, they still had to have
BJ Hannah in that format. They couldn’t just
enjoy the real thing, even though she was right
there in front of them. So it’s like
stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning and
I’ve come down to some God-forsaken
part of Seoul to witness BJ Biryong do
his daily workout, to help him stave off
the Effective Mukbang. Hi, hello, hello, hello. Charlotte nice
to meet you. Bye. Oh
What’s your favorite thing
about your job? What do you
enjoy the most? My favorite part of
the job is that I can show my talents
to my viewers. What’s your least
favorite part of your job? Gaining weight, this job tends to turn
a person into a pig. Three hundred and thirty
three Balloon Stars! So what do you think
you’d be doing if you weren’t
a mukbang BJ? If I wasn’t a BJ I’d
probably be working in a convenience store. Really? I didn’t know that I
had any talents or any abilities before
I got this job. BJing has awakened
the talents that were asleep inside me and I’ve
come to discover myself. Through my fans I’ve
discovered that I am a person that
can be loved. For that I have so many people that
I’m thankful for. I had no goals before. Now I feel I’m on
the right path to achieving my dreams. So, this is AfreecaTV, which is the home
of mukbang. It’s the platform all
the BJs use to upload and broadcast their mukbangs. This is, kind of, I suppose where it all
began, so these guys can tell us some of
the history about it, from a broadcasting
point-of-view. Hi! Hi. Who can be a BJ? Can anybody just
become a BJ? You don’t need to have
any qualifications to become a BJ on
Afreeca TV. Anyone who has
a passion or talent for
broadcasting can do it. The BJs at Afreeca TV
work very hard to provide entertaining content
to our viewers and they are constantly
researching to discover how to improve. Mukbangs seems to be
quite niche, quite, you know, a small trend. Would you agree
with that? I can give you
some statistics. At the moment, a famous
Mukbank BJ called Bomprika has a view
count of 300 million and has a fan club of
670 thousand people. That gives you
an idea of how many people are watching
his broadcasts. Due to the vast amount
of BJs these days, there seems to be a clear sense
of competition between them in order to really
stand out from the crowd. This has meant the
mukbang broadcasts sit somewhere between
vlogging and terrestrial food
television. Biryong had spotted me on
BJ Sof’s broadcast, and got back in touch with us
to invite me to his DIY studio in a tent on
the outskirts of Seoul. There was a sense of him
wanting to out do BJ Sof. Oh, my God. Oh, It’s cold,
cold, cold. Wow, so
we’ve got groceries. My home, my home, go, go. This is you,
this is the tent. Oh, my God. There’s no psychological
warfare between Mukbang BJs but I recognize the effort
the others are making to improve their shows and
that makes me want to put in as much effort as
I can for my own show. I never feel the need to
catch someone up and win. But I often think that
I can always learn from others and this inspires me to keep
up with my work too. So can you correctly
explain to me what is the deal with
the military theme? I was a chef when I was doing my
military service. In the very beginning, I
was cooking in my normal clothes, but because I
was an army chef before, people told me to wear
the uniform, and it’s been almost three years
I’ve been wearing them. I’ve already
prepared them here. The wardrobe. When I heard Charlet was
coming I prepared these uniforms I used to wear
when I was slimmer. Oh.
Let’s give it to them. Okay.
Yeah! Hello. Hello. The difference
between my fans and friends is that my fans
don’t really know me. So naturally they
ask many more questions about me
than my real friends. I can say that my
friends don’t really watch my Mukbang. pork, I love you. Pork, I love you. I love you. Yes, I love you, pork. So in here is pork, garlic, onion, something
secret, I think we’ve got some kimchi that’s
about to go in there. This is already looking
and smelling great. There are about 900
people watching the show now. I will keep doing Mukbang
until I have a family. I want to create
new content and cook new dishes before
that happens, and when I have a child and
he has grown a little, I could make a Junior
Mukbang show with him. What? One hundred and nine! Hundred and
nine balloons? Yeah! Mm. Hi. I feel completely
overwhelmed. It was fun, but I felt
a pressure to finish my food, and
now the camera’s off, I realize that I’ve,
the pressure has compromised my
waist band. In a country that’s very
much technology and celebrity obsessed, it’s not hard to see
why mukbang exists. It plays to our
voyeuristic instincts and its interactivity breaks
the mold of how we traditionally engage
with food television. There’s no simple answer
when describing your typical Mukbang viewer. Girls watch it. Guys watch it. Some watch it to try to help themselves
with their diets. Others because
they’re lonely. And for some, it’s
just a way to get off. Will BJs replace our
celebrity chef’s? I doubt it. But for generation
geared towards instant gratification, the
mukbang BJs will be dining out in their fans
for the foreseeable.

100 comments

  1. I know this is wrong but I don't see Asians as normal humans J think there a different species that's similar to us

  2. This helps my appetite honestly, because i have problems eating at all. So this get's me hungry at least. lol.

  3. I honest to god dont know how people can watch it, Im struggling to get through this video, I cant stand watching people eat and I HATE the sound of people chewing. But hey each to their own.

  4. Typical white fucks looking down on others who aint so whitish. 2018 look at you white fucks now getting ur ass kicked by middle east. Serves u fuckers right

  5. Its not that complicated to understand. People like eating together and most of us don't have someone to share that with. So that's why these online streamers are like a form of company.

  6. Wow Chalet went in really closed minded and already stated that it was weird from the beginning… Every culture has its unique points

  7. Almost 4 years later and mukbangs are pretty popular among western viewers too! Just look at Trisha Paytas and other YouTubers for example. It's not a fetish, people just enjoy the satisfaction of watching others enjoy a good meal, especially if they're on a diet and can't eat junk food themselves.

  8. Why would I waste my time watching someone eating his dinner?
    Mukbang is a sign of devolution. We have so much time to waste, we watch others people eating their meal whilst we miss out on real conversations in the real world.
    Keep living behind your screen if you want but i'd rather go back to reading good books instead

  9. So unhealthy. Am I supposed to believe that the thinner looking mukbangers aren't purging afterwards? It doesn't pass the common sense test.

  10. The people who participate in Mukbang are disrespectful, self centered, spoiled, annoying brats. Talk about calorie counting ya greasy fucking pigs!

  11. Why are you implying there is a things such as a "female perspective"?
    Why are you implying that "gender" is a factor of this equation?
    Maybe sex is not involved, and you want to sex no matter what.
    Maybe there is sex in some mukbangers: same action does not need same motivation behind it (you need a thick description, someone would say).
    I'm not saying there is no sex in mukbang, I'm saying that not all mukbang is about sex.
    Defining mukbang "strange" you are being allusive.
    Be careful of the word you use: I know some words sounds like they are the only good one, but they are treacherous sometimes.

  12. And look at what’s going on now:) They try to show it as creepy,weird asian thing-while Americans are doing the exact same now.

  13. Topic: 21st century odd trend

    Music: myth busters paranormal activity

    Like tf out of all songs. We can talk if they're eating haunted dolls for a living.

  14. so… asians are more advanced then us with tech…but…yet, my mans didnt have a built in webcam?! the fuck

  15. @ 25:23 “And for some it’s just a way to get off” Totally uncalled for comment, she’s not proven that this a fetish for people so why throw that RUDE comment in at the very end.
    I also don’t care for this lady’s broadcasting skills as she overly dramatic about her “waist line” while saying she over ate.

  16. I'm totally confused why the interviewer seemed so incredibly creeped out by the concept of just eating in front of a computer screen.

  17. Those lip smacking and chewing noises are so fucking disgusting. They need a good slap across their face from their parents. Monumental failure of a person

  18. honestly i just like hearing the crunches, i can pretend im eating really good food while being broke XD and ive been into foreign eating vids the whole time but i guess most canadians arent about that

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