In July, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced ‘Comprehensive Countermeasures for National Obesity Management’. These countermeasures include the regulation of ‘Mokbang’, which has left many upset. Unlike broadcastings that present recipes, mokbang literally focuses on the eating. Despite controversy, the Ministry of Health and Welfare is establishing criteria for mokbang content and creating guidelines that must be met to improve and ensure the health of the nation. Some of the other countermeasures are restrictions on media advertisements that promote binge eating. The Sookmyung Times asked two Sookmyung Women’s University students their opinions on this mokbang and the government’s plan to control it.
- Debate Topic –
To regulate mokbang content, due to a rise in the national obesity rate, the government has established a set of criteria to control content broadcasting, and this has caused quite a stir among people. Most people feel mokbangs don’t promote binge, so the government has no right to control its content. Despite the controversy, regulating the content does have merit. The content itself causes social problem.
First, mokbang content could cause people to have unhealthy eating habits. When people think of mokbangs, they usually imagine a person sitting in front of a camera eating a huge amount of food all alone. The food is at the heart of the broadcast, but most of the food is fast food or strong-tasted food. Mokbang stimulates the appetite of viewers, so it is connected to consumption and as a result causes people to form unhealthy eating habits. For instance, one broadcasting company aired the scene of a celebrity eating ‘Gopchang’ and it became a trend. As these examples show, mokbangs influence the real world.
Second, mokbang leads overheat to certain food item. And more often than not, the product is not healthy. As people consume more and more of this unhealthy item, the impact on the environment and society cannot be ignored. Personally, I have witnessed more than two hundred chickens being sold on average at a small chicken restaurant in my town, so I worry about the state of affairs at chicken farms and the waste created by the enormous amount of livestock needed to accommodate peoples eating desires. I expect mokbang as it stimulates one’s desire to consume certain food like fried chicken, is one possible cause of these problems. The government should consider regulating its media content. It is inappropriate for the government to censor all its media content though. Aside from this, Koreans need to recognize the problems caused by mokbang so that they do not succumb to the illusory satisfaction mokbang conveys. Perhaps now is the time to diet from mokbangs?
We should not regulate mokbang. The ‘Comprehensive Countermeasures for National Obesity Management’ which was recently announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare is controversial. The government is proposing guidelines for the media and advertisement agencies that control the airing or promoting of binge eating. The government will also establish a monitoring system to ensure the obesity rate in Korea stops rising. The Ministry of Health and Welfare claims it is not regulating all mokbangs but setting guidelines to raise awareness about extreme mokbang. However, regulating control over mokbang broadcasts, even under the name of guidelines, is no different from defining mokbang as problematic broadcast. The government should not exert control over mokbangs.
For some time, shows that center on food have flooded the airwaves. Compared to the past, however, interest in mokbangs that only highlight eating have increased. Experts have explained reasons for their popularity through various social backgrounds. Looking at demographics, mokbangs are viewed as a way of resolving loneliness at mealtimes due to the rise in single-person households. From social and financial views, they are bringing small but certain happiness which N-posaedae that has to give up dream and hope beyond marriage, having a job, making friend can only pursue. For these reasons, the government should look beyond just the eating behavior shown on mokbangs to people’s desire to watch them. Regulating mokbangs merely because of obesity is a simple-minded approach. There are underlying problems that need addressing first so that people live healthy lifestyles. If these problems are not resolved, regulating mokbang while it may decrease the obesity rate, it will not make people live truly healthy lives. The government should seek alternative solutions, and stop seeing mokbangs as something to regulate. Instead, they are something that needs to be analyzed.