Ever heard of mukbang? I'll make it easy for you… ever watched videos of people eating a huge amount of food, most of the time using just chopsticks? Yes, that's the mukbang. or muk-bang (먹방). The term refers to a spectacle that is broadcast on the internet of people eating a lot – and most of them are thin people. The word “mukbang” comes from the Korean words “to eat” (먹는; meokneun) and "to issue" (방송; bangsong).
The mukbang became popular in South Korea in the late 2000s. Some mukbangs are also broadcast on television, such as on the Afreeca channel. Participants in mukbangs are known as “BJs”, in English. broadcast jockey. BJs interact with their audience through chats – when it happens live, usually via webcast. Nowadays, because of the facilities, having access to these videos is even easier on social networks such as Instagram. The most popular BJs are even paid to eat! Because they usually receive donations from fans or promote specific products as if it were a publicity just like artists usually do. But why videos like these are so successful? Let's understand.
obsession with sounds
One of the reasons that can make mukbang a pleasure to see is the famous Asmr (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), or in English Autonomous Meridian Sensory Response. It's basically feeling pleasure when listening to some common sounds that convey relaxation and pleasure like: someone whispering, someone typing, plastic being crushed, someone making noise while eating among others,
Mukbang is no longer a custom in South Korea and China and became popular in United States and in others western countries. One of the concerns in mukbang videos is the aesthetics of the food. The rule is clear: the tastier and more caloric the foods are more clicks and views it will have. The same goes for exotic foods. I've seen a video like this in which a Korean woman ate a kind of “frog” as if it were the tastiest meat in the world, but I confess that I didn't want to stop watching it because the video was very satisfying.
Some professionals such as psychologists also believe that these videos are so successful because they are considered “forbidden” foods, condemned by doctors for being enemies of a healthy life. So people who just watch mukbang often do so to satisfy their craving just for watching. Let's say it's the famous: eating with your eyes.
Another reason is also because many of these videos have foods that are difficult to access and by watching them some people get to know some varieties. But many health professionals condemn this type of content, because in a way, mukbang participants are influencers and can make people go in search of unhealthy foods. But, the damage can be to the BJs themselves, as this is their "work" this frequency of eating harmful foods can lead to eating disorders such as obesity and anorexia that can trigger other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension among others.
An example of an influencer in the BJs industry is the American youtuber Nicholas Perry known as Nikocado Avocado, He gained more than 100 kilos in front of the cameras due to the lifestyle in search of clicks. He developed rapid weight gain and messed with his mental health by dealing with a vicious cycle of high-calorie fast-food meals, and he also suffered constant attacks from followers regarding his personal life.
In China, for example, this practice is not well regarded, so in 2020 President Xi Jinping started a campaign against food waste, warning the Chinese about the dangers of food shortages. Mukbang videos have been restricted by the Chinese government.
"Clean plate" campaign
As already mentioned, in 2020 Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the fight against food waste in which he raised concerns about shortages due to the trade war with the United States and floods that affected local crops according to information from the Uol Notícias website. With the arrival of Covid-19 that devastated the whole world in 2020, the idea of fighting food waste in the country gained more strength.
After this request, the local media turned their attention to mukbang with reports critical of them. Other social media companies have started to do the same. The situation got so serious that if any Chinese searched the internet for anything related to mukbang, they would automatically receive a warning to encourage them to eat healthy and refuse to waste.
Content producers had their videos blurred in order to discourage them from continuing with the practice. This caused several of them to delete videos of eating. Another influencer who is well known for her mukbang is the Korean woman known as “Muk Sna" Or the. bite"'. She eats a lot, organizes the dishes in a very harmonic and eye-catching way in some videos, even cute ways.
Do you find mukbang style videos satisfying?