Dubbed the ‘Food Porn Superstars of South Korea’ by VICE.com, Broadcast Jockies (also known as BJ’s, for better or worse) are making waves on the world wide web for what has to be the oddest internet sensation in recent times.
Muk-bang, which translates to “eating broadcasts” in English, is a cultural phenomenon among millenials in South Korea where individuals broadcast themselves live while eating large quantities of food and interacting with their audience. With thousands of viewers at a time, BJ’s receive virtual gifts in the form of donations from fans during each live show.
Park Seo-Yeon, also known as “The Diva”, has received donations totaling upwards of $9,000 a month from loyal followers of her broadcasts. Say what?! With 68,000 subscribers on YouTube and nearing 10,000,000 video views, Park, a petite and attractive Korean BJ, has been able to make a comfortable living off this voyeuristic trend that rose to popularity in 2011.
According to VICE, another BJ, a male who goes by the name of Bomprika, has a view count of 300 million and over 670,000 subscribers. The vast amount of BJ’s continues to grow at a rapid rate, but how? Why?
What is the appeal of watching another person eat massive amounts of food, you ask? With the rise of one-person households in South Korea, some viewers say that whenever they’re a bit lonely, tuning into a broadcast feels as if they’re eating with someone else; a friend, perhaps. In South Korea, where eating is a highly social activity and not meant to be done alone, it’s not surprising that those who are without a companion find solace by tuning into live broadcasts where they can interact with the charming personalities they see on their screens.
Two other reasons for this bizarre fascination are that South Korea, much like the rest of the world, is an increasingly technology-obsessed society. The newer generation doesn’t watch television, but they do watch their smart phones. Also, those who are on diets feel fulfilled by the “vicarious eating” that ensues when watching another BJ eat, oddly enough.
Whether you refuse to be lonely or are simply amused by watching another person eat considerable quantities of food, it appears as though the muk-bang trend is a solid new form of entertainment in South Korea.