Broadcast Eating
Broadcast Eating

Dining and ‘onlining’ - welcome to Food Porn

WESTERN media and bloggers have dubbed it "food porn" or "gastronomic voyeurism", but in its home country of South Korea it's known simply as meok-bang: "broadcast eating".

This trend from the world's most connected nation sees solo diners live-streaming evening meals to audiences of thousands. In a country where a quarter of households are occupied by one individual, a sit-down dinner with a familiar face can be a godsend, even if it is virtual.

"People enjoy the vicarious pleasure when they can't find that food at night or are on a diet," Park Seo-yeon, one of the country's most popular broadcast jockeys, told Reuters.

"Loneliness is another crucial factor. The show is addictive as you can communicate with thousands of people at home," says Park, who is also known as The Diva to her fans.

For the 34-year-old the broadcasts have proved so popular that she's been able to quit her day job and go full time at Afreeca TV - the peer-to-peer video network that offers both recorded videos and live-streaming content, and that has become the home of meok-bang.

Park started streaming her meals as a hobby but now lives on her broadcasts, earning money via a virtual currency called Star Balloons that can be converted into Korean won. These "gifts" are mainly sold in small denominations worth just 10c, with viewers often sending them in alongside questions for the host.

A single broadcast can earn Park as much 1.1 million won ($A1300) and she says she has an average monthly income of around $10k, although a sizeable amount goes on food. Park's evening meals are not simple beans-on-toast affairs, but feasts that can go on for hours.

She spends almost $3800 each month on top quality ingredients and in a single sitting can eat as much as 12 hamburgers, 12 fried eggs, and three bowls of kimchi stew.

Despite this, Park says she's only put on around 9kg since starting her show, saying that she has a high metabolic rate and inherited her gluttonous appetite from her family.

She also denies she has any eating disorders, and often stays online after the meal to prove she's not "purging" afterwards.

Although some will claim there is an element of fetishism to these broadcasts (whether male or female, the most popular hosts are generally young and attractive) the concept of meok-bang has widespread appeal - beyond even the internet.

'Meok-bang' is itself a portmanteau term, combing "meok" (a short form of "meokda", meaning to eat ) and "bang" ( short for "bangsong" or "on air").

The Korean Herald says the term can describe "anything from the way a movie star eats in a film to how a food program MC dines," and that viewers in South Korea often praise actors who can 'eat deliciously' on TV and film.

Given Australia's love for cookery shows, it wouldn't be a massive surprise if meok-bang or something similar found its way down under some time.

 

- THE INDEPENDENT


The show must go on, and we will love it

The show must go on, and we will love it

Community wants to come together rain, hail or shine

Tailor and cut above the rest

Tailor and cut above the rest

Lismore's Bespoke Tailor

Don't forget gumboots

Don't forget gumboots

Lismore Show set to go for the weekend

Local Partners