What is Mukbang and Why is it Still a Thing?

by Shelin Yap


Eat With Boki with 5.99 millions subscribers on YouTube


‘Mukbang’ (mukh-bahng) is a blend of the Korean words ‘muk-ja’ (which means eating) and ‘bang-song’ (which means broadcast). So literally translated, Mukbang means ‘eatcast.


You won’t believe it, but many Mukbangers - individuals who broadcast their eating - are said to be raking in at least USD10,000 to USD100,000 from brand endorsement and product reviews - all through eating right in the comfort of their own homes! All thanks to the growing popularity of Mukbang as entertainment.


The sounds of eating, chewing, and wait for this… burping (!) … are captured using premium quality microphones for the sake of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). So popular Mukbang has become, that this ‘eatcasting’ has turned into a worldwide trend where YouTubers and live streamers pick up expensive gear to film their eating.


And just when you think you are ready to be called a Mukbanger, let’s not forget the key criterion: you must be able to eat A LOT. That is the bottom line of becoming a successful Mukbanger, because nobody is interested in watching someone who eats just a bowl of rice.


According to Hamzy, she shares the ugly truth behind the making of her Mukbang videos, “I try not to eat when I don’t film a video even when I’m hungry.”


Hamzy shares her eating habits with 3.66 millions subscribers


With the unhealthy eating habits of constantly starving to eating large amounts of food the next day, Ukrainian Mukbanger Nikocado Avocado aka Nicholas Perry suffered from erectile dysfunction and frequent diarrhea from his extreme binge-eating for the sake of views.


Nikocado Avocado with this extremely spicy ramen noodles


The trend of Mukbang started in South Korea in 2010, based on the idea of how uncommon it was for South Koreans to dine alone. Today, 3 out of 10 most watched videos in South Korea are actually Mukbang. That’s a whopping 30% of video watch! What’s more, a Mukbang video could gain about 500k views within its first 3 hours of going online.


Mukbang is usually done pre-recorded or streamed live through platforms like Afreeca, YouTube and Twitch. When live-streaming, most Mukbangers interact with their viewers and people actually stay for the hour.


Viewership is heavily based on the frequency of the videos put out by the Mukbangers. So unlike other genres, Mukbangers tend to update their channel very frequently with at least 2 videos per week.


It’s anybody’s guess what drives the popularity of Mukbang. It could be that viewers are curious about the food culture of a particular Mukbanger (depending on where they are at). Or it might be that viewers enjoy watching another indulging in lavish seafood that they couldn’t afford for themselves. Or maybe still, they do it just for the sake of watching someone...eat.


Mukbang is no more new. But it’s still refreshing to watch. So if you haven’t yet checked out Mukbang, you should! Just make sure you are not watching with an empty stomach.


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