Getting Paid to Eat

Imagine getting paid $10,000 a month just for eating.  The catch is that you have to eat a vast amount of food, enough to feed a family of 10, every single night all from the comfort of home. Oh, and you have to stream yourself live so the whole world can see and speak with you like they were invited dinner guests to your virtual feast.  Your popularity has to carry a large enough following to obtain advertising dollars or to warrant a charge to view your videos.

This is a current Korean phenomenon called ‘mukbang’.

Noryangjin Fish Market, Seoul, October 2010

Mukbang Mess

My mukbang would take place sometime after 7pm after SJ goes to bed, snuggled in sweats and covers in my own bed surrounded by buckets of salty popcorn, Coke Zero, and broken bits of chocolate covered pretzels.  No one wants to pay to see that.

Mukbang is presented in a food porn-esque style.  Hours of preparation go into the cooking, display and gorging of steaming bubbly stews, mountains of glossy noodles and copious mounds of barbecued meats.  Honestly, it makes you hungry.  The food looks good!  The typically young muk-bangers are a good looking lot of thin, attractive and stylish men and women.  Slurping or smacking, they carry on conversations with viewers during the broadcast feed.

Noryangjin Fish Market, Seoul, October 2010

Why oh why?

We all crave connection.  The majority of Koreans, who live in Seoul (population 10 million!), live in tiny apartments stacked in high-rises all over the city.  As with many big cities, social isolation and emotional distance persist.  Eating and talking over a meal has proven to be a way to feel close with others, even virtually.  Koreans have come together online to meet for dinner.  And it seems to fill a void of loneliness as well as their empty stomachs.

To see for yourself, check out Tony Bourdain with one of the more famous muk-bangers and some of the more popular muk-bangers.

Hungry yet?  Tell me what you think in the comments below.

If you’re new here, welcome.  Read my introduction and learn more about me.

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