Mukbang is one of the viral trends that has taken the internet by storm. Millions of people enjoy watching these videos because they provide entertainment, company, and satisfaction. While many find the craze enjoyable, others are concerned with its effects on a person’s well-being and how it might affect someone’s healthy lifestyle.
Read on to know more about mukbang and the truth behind this internet trend.
What is Mukbang?
The term “mukbang” is a mix of two Korean words: muk-ja and bang-song. When translated to English, muk-ja means ‘let’s eat’ and bang-song means ‘broadcast’. Notably, many people get the mukbang pronunciation wrong, as several commit the mistake of enunciating it as ‘muck-bang’. However, the right pronunciation of the word in Korean is actually ‘mook-bong’. While the term is a bit tricky to articulate, it is really easy to comprehend. Simply put, the mukbang definition refers to the live broadcast of people eating food, usually in large amounts. More than binge-eating, there are different variations to this trend.
Some mukbangers show off their cooking skills as they prepare their food before eating. Others do the autonomous sensory meridian response challenge, which most people know as ASMR. This refers to the relaxing and satisfying sensation that people experience when triggered by pleasing sights and sounds such as whispers and in the case of mukbang, chewing food.
Other mukbangers approach the trend as a food challenge. Some take in large amounts of food as fast as they can. Some mukbangers eat until their bodies cannot handle taking more. In contrast, some incorporate eating with casual chatting. On the other hand, some mukbangers merely eat their food without any other gimmicks.
Origin of Mukbang
The mukbang craze originated from South Korea in 2010. In South Korean culture, people consider eating with friends or family as a societal norm, as Koreans rarely dine on their own. Moreover, people believe that the trend developed due to the escalating tendency of Koreans to feel sad over their physical detachment from society brought about by the digital era. So, to alleviate such sentiments, mukbangers turned to filming themselves as they eat.
Korean mukbang was primarily broadcasted live on Afreeca TV. They were usually aired around mealtimes. This was to help give audiences a closer feel to dining with someone in person. In turn, mukbangers’ target audience found delight and company in watching them dine. Since then, mukbang has been aired regularly and eventually reached other countries.
American vs. Korean Mukbang
The mukbang trend may have originated from Korea, but it eventually made its way across the world. Americans, for example, are one of the leading mukbangers that people have come to famously know. They adopted and added various features to the trend, giving it their personal touch.
While both versions involve people eating in front of a camera, there are still differences between American and Korean mukbang content that people generally observe. Some of these differences include:
Food variation is one of the most common differences between Korean and American mukbang. Given that they came from distinct countries and cultures, the food selection in their videos is also usually different.
Most Korean mukbangers eat traditional Korean food. This includes rice cakes, stir-fried noodles, grilled meat, and more. On the other hand, most American mukbangers tend to consume more food variations that are not confined to their roots or culture. Some American mukbangers usually opt for their typical dishes such as burgers, fries, steaks, and more. However, some American mukbangers also give the trend their own spin. For example, some of them try out food from other countries.
Time of Broadcast
The original Korean mukbang was a simple, live broadcast of people eating. They usually go live during dinner hours. This way, viewers can acquire the feeling of having someone to dine with. They can tune in to their favorite mukbangers while also enjoying their food at the actual time of their meal.
In contrast, American mukbangers don’t usually do live broadcasts of them eating. They typically air them on online platforms such as YouTube. Through their YouTube channels, subscribers can then choose what food videos they want to watch. Moreover, they can also decide when to watch them.
Conversation Inclusion While Eating
Another difference between Korean mukbang and the American counterpart of the trend is the inclusion of conversation. Korean mukbangers are usually silent because their main focus is on the act of eating. So, they merely consume food and keep their viewers company. In contrast, some American mukbangers tend to casually chat with their viewers while they dine in front of their cameras.
Most American mukbangers talk about how their food tastes as well. Viewers who are either interested in the food or have cravings of them find these mukbang videos appealing. Moreover, some American mukbangers like to talk about feelings and life stories as they eat. This way, viewers have that added sense of connection with the mukbanger.
Of course, the differences between American and Korean mukbang do not entirely apply to all. These are what people generally observe but are not always the case for every mukbanger. For example, many mukbangers approach the trend as a food challenge instead of the mere act of eating in front of the camera.
While American mukbangers mostly do this, there have also been some Korean mukbangers who tried out this same approach. Moon Bok Hee of Eat with Boki, a famous Korean mukbanger, is an example of such. Although she is Korean, she adopted the American version of the trend. Moreover, she is known for consuming large amounts of food that are closer to what American mukbangers usually eat. Indeed, mukbang continues to evolve as people continue to change it according to what works best for them.
Why is Mukbang Popular?
As an essential, everyone not only needs food, they crave it as well. Indeed, people consume a lot of food products and viewers watch countless food shows around the world. Undeniably, there is a certain joy in seeing people delight in mouth-watering dishes.
With that said, many factors made mukbang popular across the world. Among the main reasons are:
Food triggers various senses, as we see, smell, and consume them. Most people find watching others enjoy their food very satisfying. This is one of the reasons why mukbang became popular.
After it was developed, mukbangers enhanced the trend and made it their own. Some turned to mukbang ASMR videos which strongly tingle people’s spines and brains. Many viewers found the sounds of audible chewing and slurping to be very satisfying. Moreover, ASMR eating videos give people a better sense of enjoying the food virtually through the sensory sensations they provide.
Mukbang was originally developed to help solve the increasing loneliness tendencies in South Korea. It helped a lot in giving a sense of companionship to its avid viewers. This still holds up to this day. Many people watch mukbangers eat to cater to their social needs. Through mukbang, viewers do not merely acquire pleasure from seeing food. They they also find mukbangers to be virtual companions that can help them with their social interaction needs.
Emotional and Psychological Factors
Mukbang also became famous due to the emotional and psychological factors they positively affect. For one, many people ease their stress by watching mukbang videos. Others find the visuals and sounds of food to be satisfying. As such, many may turn to mukbang videos as a way to relax after a long day’s work.
The trend is also known to help people with food cravings and a strict diet. For some, watching people eat helps them overcome certain foods they crave for. Many people find that seeing others eat what they want is enough to satisfy their cravings.
Famous YouTube Mukbangers
Mukbang paved the way for many mukbangers to garner instant fame and fortune. Ever since it made its way to YouTube, the trend inspired many content creators to try it out. Today, mukbang continues to entertain and satisfy many people from different parts of the world.
Here are some of the most famous YouTube mukbangers today:
One of the most followed mukbang YouTube stars is Stephanie Soo. Soo is a Korean mukbanger who garnered millions of followers on her self-titled YouTube channel. She consistently uploads videos of her eating various kinds of foods. Additionally, she also does vlogging on a separate YouTube channel, MissMangoButt.
Many fans admire Stephanie Soo for her quirky personality. Moreover, people find that one of the best things about Soo is that she makes her mukbang videos pleasing. She always displays mouth-watering and well-plated food, which leave her viewers wanting even more content.
The famous food blogger, Nikocado Avocado, is also a popular YouTube mukbanger. Although he is more popularly known for his online alias, his real name is Nicholas Perry. Perry now has over 2.11 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. He was said to have garnered fame after posting his Fire Takis Noodle Challenge and Korean Fire Noodle Challenge videos on YouTube.
Jung Man Soo is another popular YouTube mukbanger. Many people know him better for his alias, Banzz. While he has garnered instant fame and high income through his mukbang videos, he later found himself at the center of controversy. In 2019, Banzz was prosecuted for the false advertising of dietary products. Due to this, he was sentenced to a total of six months in prison. Banzz and the food company he represented were individually fined over $4,100 due to a violation of the Daejeon District Court’s Health-Functional Food Act.
Banzz may still have millions of fans today, but he still lost a significant number of subscribers on his YouTube channel due to the incident. Nevertheless, the mukbanger continues to upload videos for his millions of YouTube subscribers. Fortunately, he hasn’t made any controversial advertisements since his previous lawsuit.
Eat With Boki
Moon Bok Hee is known for eating large amounts of food on her YouTube channel, Eat with Boki. She is a South Korean mukbanger who has over 4.52 million YouTube subscribers as of today. Although she has millions of fans around the world, there were still many others who disliked her.
People accused Moon Bok Hee of editing her videos to conceal the act of her spitting out her food. Online subscribers have mixed reactions to this controversy. Some people believed the accusation and called her out for it, saying that she is not a legitimate mukbanger. Furthermore, some went as far as accusing Boki of being bulimic, despite not having any proper evidence for such accusations. On the other hand, some fans defended Boki, claiming there are no rules against editing mukbang videos.
Eventually, Moon Bok Hee denied such claims. She said that the allegations on her sincerity as a creator saddened her but will not stop her from improving her content. True enough, Boki continued to upload videos on her YouTube channel for her millions of subscribers’ entertainment.
The Truth About Mukbang YouTuber’s Lifestyle
Mukbang has affected a lot of lives, particularly the lives of mukbangers themselves. Indeed, the lifestyle of an ordinary person turned YouTube mukbanger drastically changes—from financial aspects to their health.
While several good changes can be brought on from a mukbanger’s lifestyle, there are also questionable and harsh truths surrounding overall well-being.
Quite a number of mukbangers garnered instant followers and subscribers after they hopped on the trend. While many people admire mukbangers for their dedication and effort in their craft, other people criticized them. This is because many online users condemn the over-eating and health risks that mukbang brings. Indeed, the online debate about the pros and cons of the trend continues to prevail. Still, it is undeniable that many mukbangers have garnered fame through their videos and will stay well-known for their craft.
Aside from instant fame, mukbangers also earn serious money from their mukbang content alone. By using social media as a monetary platform, many mukbangers now benefit from their videos as a source of income.
One famous mukbanger, for example, is Park Seo-Yeon. She is well-known in South Korea for her food blogs and mukbang videos. Just from her YouTube channel, she earns over $108,000 annually. This is excluding other sponsorships that she may have acquired from being a famous mukbanger. Moreover, her mukbang salary may increase even further as she obtains more subscribers and creates more content later down the road.
True enough, YouTube mukbangers may garner instant fame and rake in a great amount of money. Still, eating food over the normal consumption in one sitting does not sound healthy, especially when done regularly. Indeed, the famous trend does not come without controversy and criticism from the public. Mukbang took a toll on the once healthy lifestyle of some people before they made the trend their regular activity and way of living.
Taking on a regular, high-calorie diet poses many health risks. Among mukbang’s short-term effects include bloating, stomach pain, physical discomfort, and fatigue. When one binge-eats unhealthy and high-calorie food for a long time, there can be more serious and life-threatening effects. Through caloric intake, famous mukbangers could experience excessive weight gain, high sugar levels, and various heart problems.
After laying out the pros and cons, it is still up to a person to decide whether fame and fortune are enough to sacrifice some aspects of their life. Indeed, the key to this remains to be balance and proper prioritization.
As more people continue to tune in to mukbang, it can be said that the craze will continue to evolve and entertain millions of people. Just like with other internet trends, there are advantages and possible consequences for mukbang. Still, people need to find a balance between entertainment and well-being. Whether you watch mukbang for entertainment, companionship, or whatever reason—you have to keep in mind that it should positively affect you so you can keep your mind and body healthy.