Mukbang – From Loneliness to Food Stars
Written by: Indrani Salsabilla & Laksmana Anggitapradhana
Designed By: M. Albaradai Ansar
What do you usually do when you are bored? Do you go hang out with friends outside? Are you more into calm, indoor activities, such as reading books? Or are you perhaps finding yourself scrolling through random videos on the internet to pass time? If you are one of the latter types, you may be familiar with Mukbang videos. Watching strangers eat an enormous amount of food and listening to the sound they are making as they eat their food may sound like a peculiar thing to do. However, Mukbang has been one of the most popular videos on the net since several years ago. How exactly does this happen?
Mukbang is a combination of two Korean words, Mukja (eating) and Bangsong (broadcast). Thus, Mukbang translates literally to eating broadcast. In South Korea, dining is considered a social activity. People rarely go out to eat alone. To cope with that, people set up their phone or camera, do a live stream, read comments from the viewers, and talk while eating the food they have prepared before. At least, that was what mukbang referred to back in its earlier days. Mukbang has evolved into something more complex since its first practice began in 2010. Nowadays, people do not do or watch Mukbang only for having eating companions. They watch Mukbang videos because it serves an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). The occasional sounds of eating and drinking, such as chewing, slurping, and gulping, give pleasant feelings to Mukbang viewers. Sometimes, people also watch Mukbang videos to relieve their curiosity towards certain cuisines. With all these newfound reasons and how Mukbang popularity rise, people see the opportunities to generate profit from making said videos.
The amount of income a Mukbang BJ (Broadcast Jockey) can make is quite a lot. Trisha Paytas, one of the most successful Mukbang stars with around 1.3 million subscribers, earns as much as $17,562 each month. The income generated from making Mukbang videos and live streams are enough to prompt successful BJs to leave their former occupations and make Mukbang their full-time job. Kim Thai, better known for her channel Eat with Kim, left her social media job at a beauty brand to focus on her Youtube channel.
A Mukbang Youtuber’s source of income is usually from ads and sponsorships, but sometimes they receive additional incomes through other manners. Fans may send virtual tokens to their favorite Youtuber, which can be converted into real money. Aside from that, endorsements and product reviews are also a common way for Mukbang Youtubers to gain additional income.
The Mukbang trend has begun since 2010 and has not indicated any signs of fading away so far. Covid-19 and the new socially-distanced life that everyone is going through right now are making people lonelier. This contributes to the relevance of Mukbang as a cure to loneliness that people have to endure today. The demand for Mukbang videos and live streams still exists, if not increases, and thus the opportunity to create profit from this demand is still there for Mukbang stars to take.
Harris, Margot. (2020). ‘I don’t like to eat alone’: Inside the world of ‘mukbangs,’ extreme-eating
videos that are making YouTubers rich. https://www.insider.com/mukbang-video-the-extreme-eating-trend-making-youtube-rich-2020-2?amp
Hoffower, Hillary. (2019). A 25-year-old YouTuber quit her job and now makes 6 figures
recording herself eating, and it’s a trend more and more influencers are cashing in on.
Starstat. (2022). Trisha Paytas Net Worth. https://starstat.yt/ch/trisha-paytas-net-worth