You Eat, I Enjoy!
Lee Kim Sooyeon  |  smt_sw@sm.ac.kr
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승인 2013.06.09  23:52:45
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At a glance, the nice, manly actor Ha Jungwoo and the cute, chubby boy Yoon Hu appear to have nothing in  common.  However, there is one thing similar.  What common image can you think of them?  Do the manly actor and cute boy really have similarity?  Today, people usually put them together in a Mukbang and people like to see them eating.  It is because Ha Jungwoo and Yoon Hu eat food really deliciously in their eating scenes in the movies and the TV Programs.  Here, people focused on their image of eating deliciously and people start to recall Mukbang from their figure.  Then, why are people enthusiastic about entertainers who are eating really deliciously on TV? 





Not Be Together, but Eat Together

Have you ever heard of MukbangMukbang is an abbreviation of Muk-Neun-Bang-Song, the eating broadcasting, which shows eating to others by Internet.1  This started from the one who produced the Muk Show (eating show) on Afreeca TV* in 2008.2  After his start, many other BJs** begin to progress individual broadcasting.  Now Mukbang becaame one common noun.  At first, BJ would just eat delivery food in front of a monitor.  However, nowadays there are many different kinds of Mukbangs: Cooking by one self; Eating foods with family; Drinking beer with friends.  Today, there are about 10% to 15% of Mukbangs among 5000 programs of Afreeca TV, and the number of Mukbang programs and audiences are increasing every day.3  However, after reporters started to use the word Mukbang to entertainers eating shows, the meaning of it became wider.  Now it means every picture, scene and broadcasting which shows people eating.  One of the famous Mukbang actors is Ha Jungwoo.  He eats really deliciously, so people call his eating in film scenes Mukbang.





New Kinds of Friends of Lonely People

Then, why have people started to be enthusiastic about Mukbang?  In the past in Korea, rice meant affection.  It was a politeness to eat everything without leaving even a grain of rice.  Therefore, until ten years ago, eating a lot considered nice.  However, now people consider eating a lot as a kind of sin.  Women are always on a diet, and there are people who deliberately reduce the amount of rice and even eat just one-meal-a-day.  With their dieting, modern Korean people have started to get vicarious satisfaction from other people who eat deliciously and eat well.  Conversely, modern people also enjoy Mukbang because they no longer feel full.  In the past, our ancestors experienced the time when there was nothing to eat, so they were thankful when they could eat anything.  However, nowadays people are living in affluence.  Eating is human’s instinctive desire, but we start losing it in a life with luxuries.  For this reason, people can’t find any stimulation in their own eating, so they start to watch Mukbang for getting stimulation.  Mukbang is similar to pornography because people make it when they can’t gratify their eating desire.  Shin Jongsu, the team leader of the Cable Food Chanel Olive TV, said, “People seem to desire appeasing their hunger of feeling by seeing food contents.  They are using food as a tool of getting consolation.”4   When people need healing, they also seek Mukbang.  Because of individualization and increasing instances of families of one, people start to feel lonely and solitary.  Therefore, people begin to watch Mukbang to get rid of their loneliness.  Kyunggi University student Kim Boram said, “From when I entered university, I needed to live alone in Seoul, so I felt lonely a lot.  I think the reason why I watched Mukbang was because I wanted to make my empty room to be filled with others’ voices.  When I watch it, I feel I’m not lonely.” Regarding those reasons why people watch Mukbang, pop culture critic Hwang Jinmi said, “Traditionally, Korean people share attraction when they have a meal.  However, eating together became a special event.  Therefore, Mukbang can get popular because it is one of the ways that lonely people can get vicarious satisfaction.5





Will You Have Dinner Together with Me?

Eating is important for human beings.  Appetite is one of the basic desires.  Therefore, people do not just eat for feeling full, but they try to eat for feeling happiness.  According to statistical data, 38% of people say that they feel happiness and enjoyment mostly when they eat food.  Only 27% are mostly happy when they sleep, and 19% are mostly happy when they exercise.6  For getting happiness from eating, modern people cook deliciously and go to restaurants that cook well.  In this context, can we really get enjoyment and satisfaction by watching Mukbang?  For us, is Mukbang the only way to solve our loneliness?  The true satisfaction and happiness comes from our real action.  Eat and try to make time for having a meal with your friends.  Feel happiness from eating by yourself rather than watching Mukbang.  How about calling to your friends for having dinner together tonight?


1 Ahn Iseul, “Berlin, Ha Jungwoo Mukbang Makes Appetite,” Joongang Ilbo, February 7, 2013

2 Kim Haneul, “People who are Finding Mukbang,” Weekly Chosun, January 21, 2013

3 Same with Footnote 1

4 Shin Soyun, Nam Eunjoo, “Food Pornography which is More Sensual than the Naked Body,” Hankyoreh, November 1, 2012

5 Eum Seungwon, “Delicious Mukbang, Audiences’ Interest Increased,” Hankyoreh, March 11, 2013

6 Han kyunghee, “Happiness of Modern Man, Eating First,” Newsen, December 13, 2009

*Afreeca TV is a video streaming service based on P2P technology in South Korea.

**BJ is an abbreviation of Broadcasting Jocky who is the reporter of Afreeca TV.


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