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Meok bang: Internet Dining Trend in South Korea
Imagine yourself eating huge amounts of food while being watched by the world around you salivate? Well, this trend in South Korea called meok neun bang song (먹는방송), or just simply meok bang (먹방), which translates to “eating broadcast” in English, has shocked many people around the world.
It started last 2008 by one of the producers of The Meok Show (an eating show in South Korea). Manly actor Ha Jeong Woo and chubby boy Yoon Hu had many scenes eating in films and TV shows, and became famous for being someone who “eats with purpose”.
Piloted by the dining host called broadcast jockey (BJ), he/she plunges him/herself into large servings of food in one sitting while being watched and interacted by viewers over the Internet. A sample menu range from traditional Korean dishes like a bowl of soy bean stew, noodles, dumplings, assorted pancakes and fritters to even Western foods like spaghetti, pizza, hamburgers, Korean fried chicken, French fries, cakes and many more. This eating trend is available only on peer-to-peer online video streaming on a network called Afreeca TV. Despite the limitations, many people in Korea find this trend to be a big hit and have been the most searched keyword online since it’s first launch.
But many people would not be enticed to just eat like a monster and get one fat. The good thing here is that BJs also get paid for their shows through a virtual currency called “Star Balloon”, which can be exchanged to legal tender later. Audiences can donate it to them as a way of showing appreciation for their performances and being part of their fan club, as well.
One of the most popular meok bang stars Park Seo Yeon, also known as “The Diva” is sought by many audience. According to online sources, she just quit her day job as a consultant in order to devote herself full-time to her eating career. The Diva, says she has gained a whopping 9 kilograms (20 lbs) since the beginning of her show. Earning up to at least 10 million won (approximately US$10,000) monthly, she considers this trend a very important source of living. In fact, large portion of her earnings goes merely to food for her eating show, which roughly estimates to 3 million won (around US$3000) per month.
Not only do meok bang stars attract viewers for their unbelievable eating talents, but also gives the opportunity for restaurants to promote themselves as endorsed by them. Studies show that many Koreans nowadays, are living alone in their apartments. As to this, meok bang is just one way of showing to others that the need of family or company, even just while eating is a must.
This trend has become global that it has gain different reactions from people from around the world. Some are amazed that on one sitting, they we’re able to finish that huge serving of food, while others said that it's not a good practice, for gluttony is considered a sin.