It’s online. There are young, attractive people. But there’s no nudity. There’s no sex. But there’s a ton of food.
This article was originally published on December 16, 2013.
Welcome to the world of “mok-bang,” a mash up of the Korean words for “eating” and “broadcast.” Earlier this year, people online in South Korea were streaming themselves stuffing their faces at dinner.
In February 2013, as tipster Sang points out, people online in Korea were praising actors, such as Jung Woo Ha, for their ability to eat deliciously in television dramas. Perhaps the mok-bang live streaming is an offshoot of that?
This fall, however, mok-bang really took off on Afreeca TV, a peer-to-peer online video network in South Korea. According to Ultralab, what makes Afreeca TV different from, say, YouTube is that viewers give the Afreeca TV live-streamers, aka “Broadcast Jockeys,” virtual currency called Star Balloons as a way to show thanks.
The virtual currency is sold in denominations ranging from $1 to $50, and through them, broadcast jockeys can earn real-world money—up to thousands of dollars each broadcast. One popular broadcast jockey even earned $1,000 in Star Balloons from a single video!
One of the most popular mok-bang broadcast jockeys is known as The Diva. By day, she works at a consulting agency. By night? She eats. A lot. The Diva streams daily starting between 8pm and 9pm, with her broadcasts going on for hours. As with many mok-bang streams, it’s a seemingly endless parade of delicious food, whether that’s yummy Korean food, pizza, pasta, steak, you name it.
In an article with The Kyunghyang Shinmun (via Sang), The Diva says she began live-streaming her meals because she felt bored and needed a hobby. That hobby, it seems, is consuming thousands of calories in one sitting! The Diva now spends the equivalent of about $3,000 a month on food. In the past, when she was eating more expensive and gourmet meals, her food bill was between $5,000 and $6,000. Gluttony is expensive.
But don’t feel bad for her. She makes thousands of bucks each month from her streams on Afreeca TV. Hopefully she makes enough to cover her meals!
Usually, The Diva eats for about two hours each night. She says she’s put on about twenty pounds from doing the mok-bang—something she doesn’t seem too fussed about. And since there were rumors that she was upchucking her meal—that her huge appetite was simply a stunt—she usually sticks around to chat on her stream for a couple hours after eating. This probably also helps with digestion. But this also means The Diva ends up streaming over four hours on a nightly basis to thousands of viewers.
Sometimes in an evening, The Diva will scarf down two medium pizzas. Other nights, it’s thirty fried eggs and a box of crab legs or five packets of instant noodles. Then, there was the night she ate twelve beef patties, twelve fried eggs, three servings of spicy pork kimchi soup and a salad.
And thanks to Afreeca TV, mok-bang has made burgeoning internet celebrities out of some mok-bang streamers. As Korean site Dailian points out, the popularity of these eating shows might be due to people’s desire not to eat alone. That might have something to do with it, but their popularity might also be due to folks’ love of food and chatting.
And sometimes it can be funny watching people eat spicy or hot food!
The Diva eats and after she finishes, she talks with her viewers, answering questions about her dinner and whatnot. Watching The Diva’s broadcasts is a bit like going to dinner with someone—and bringing the entire internet. It’s fascinating voyeurism and total food porn. Delicious.
먹어야 사는 여자, 아프리카 BJ ‘더디바’ [The Kyunghyang Shinmun Thanks, Sang!]
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