Chances are you have probably never heard of mukbang. What started as a harmless eating segment from Korean variety shows has now evolved into an eating phenomenon watched by millions of people around the world. What exactly is so amazing about mukbang? And is it really insane that an eating phenomenon has been well received throughout the world? Well, not really.
Everyone loves to eat. It’s something that brings all of us together. No matter what our background is – eating is something that we can all find in common with everyone. See, mukbang is from South Korea – a country that has always produced stuff that took the world by storm. From the billion-dollar Kpop industry to game-changing technological exports, it’s no surprise that mukbang is so well-received in a world that loves to eat.
Mook-bong or Mohk-bang?
Not sure how to pronounce “mukbang?” You don’t have to second guess now as Korean Unnie has had enough of everyone saying it as “muck-bang” or “mook-bang” – she says (click the link and skip to 0:58) the correct pronunciation is “mohk-bang.” Now that we got that out of the way, what exactly does it mean?
Mukbang is a combination of two Korean words, think sitcom (situational comedy) and cosplay (costume play). The two Korean words involved are meokneun, which means “eating” and bangsong, which means “broadcast.” Quite literally, mukbang means an eating broadcast.
But that’s not what makes it so popular.
Simply put, mukbang is extreme eating.
And when we say extreme, it’s EXTREME. Remember how we used to get insanely hungry whenever we watched Adam Richman from Man vs. Food eat mountains of food in front of him and then chase it with a ginormous drink? For mukbang, that’s child’s play.
Don’t get us wrong. Mukbang doesn’t always have to be humongous portions of food and people trying to eat it one bite at a time. Mukbang is, put simply, an eating live stream or an eating broadcast. But what separates an entertaining eating live stream is, by mukbang standards, the amount of food being consumed. Mukbangs do not have a strict rule about the variety of food you should eat in front of your audience. As long as the food in front of you can feed a small village – you’re already a mukbang streamer!
What goes on in a mukbang stream or video?
Mukbang streams do not differ that much from other types of YouTube videos or live streams. The streamers start with the usual introduction, greet everyone with the usual pleasantries, and, in the case of live streams, interact with chat. Chat is “stream speak” for the people that watch and interact with streamers on Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube.
The thing that sets these mukbang streamers apart is that they eat and eat and eat throughout their video or live stream. Most of the time, mukbang streamers or content creators film their videos at home with food that they have prepared on their own or food that they got on the go. The appeal with mukbang live streams is the amount of food that these streamers are eating and their ability to interact with everyone watching them. However, it doesn’t mean that mukbang is solely for live broadcasts.
Crunching the numbers
Mukbang can also be pre-recorded videos of people eating an insane amount of food with the main host site being YouTube. According to Tubular Insights, the views for mukbang-related content rose from 85 million in October 2017 to 138 million in April 2018. Due to the popularity of this eating craze, the most popular mukbang content creators can earn as much as $10,000 a month excluding sponsorships. Shaking your head? Oh well, such is life.
While quitting your desk job to become a mukbang content creator sounds amazing, remember that you still have to afford the food you eat on video. As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. And, if we’re being honest, buying food to showcase on your videos should be the least of your worries. You have to invest in a streaming-ready PC or laptop, a nice camera for live streaming or recording your videos, and all the graphics you’re going to use on your video/stream.
Quick tip: If you’re seriously thinking about becoming a mukbang streamer, it’s probably wise to check with your doctor first about any underlying conditions you might have. The insane amount of food might have an adverse effect on your overall health.
But what makes mukbang so appealing?
The perception of mukbang in varying audiences differ greatly. In a Harvard blog post, one possible explanation of why mukbang feels so relatable in the east is the aspect of eating as a social activity. In addition, Jeff Yang, senior vice president of Kantar Futures, claims that mukbang probably came about due to the “loneliness of unmarried or uncoupled South Koreans.” Which makes it easier for mukbang content creators to find a place online where they can interact with people in a social, but still distant, manner.
If you break it down to its simplest form, mukbang really is no different from gaming streams, clothing hauls, or make-up videos. It’s a person trying to entertain other people doing the thing they love most. Because who doesn’t love eating anyway?
If you’re new to mukbang, check out the content creators below to get you started!
Dorothy – Dorothy’s real name is Min Ga-In. Dorothy is a South Korean YouTuber with 3.83 million subscribers. The thing that sets Dorothy apart is that she shares her recipes with her audience. In most of her videos, she prepares her own mukbang food and takes her viewers through the cooking process.
Yuka Kinoshita – Yuka is a food YouTuber and a competitive eater. While it’s known that mukbang streamers eat a lot of food. Yuka is just… different. And by different, we mean 20 servings of sushi, 7 kilograms worth of coffee, or almost 5 kilograms of fried rice. Her meals range from 4,000 to 20,000 calories.