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Mukbang Culture

Updated: 4 days ago

Dear Asian Youth,

I used to stay up late watching mukbangs to satisfy my midnight cravings. As I watched YouTubers engulf enormous plates of tteokbokki, fried chicken, and cheesy corn dogs in one sitting, my snacking desires subsided.

What is Mukbang?

Mukbang, which translates to “eating room,” are popular videos that feature individuals eating copious amounts of food. Mukbangs originate from South Korea; Muk-ja means eating and bang means show. For some, mukbang videos elevate hunger and cravings. Others find that there is something incredibly satisfying about the crunch and the gooey textures that seem to melt in their own mouths. And for those eating a meal by themselves, watching mukbangers can make their dining experience livelier.

Gillespie conducted a study where 36 mukbang videos by nine female creators from the USA, Canada, and South Korea were analyzed to understand the impacts that mukbang videos have on body image. According to Gillespie, viewers enjoyed watching mukbang videos due to society’s disapproval when women eat large amounts of food. Nearly 80% of teenage girls are discontent with their bodies whereas 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and turn to dieting. Watching skinny mukbangers eat copious amounts of fast food satisfies viewers because they want to eat unhealthy foods but cannot bring themselves to do so due to a want to become fit and feed into diet culture. In this way, the mukbanger is accomplishing what audiences wish to accomplish themselves, thus many feel fulfilled in watching someone complete such an extreme task.

Though “mukbangers” make money from gorging, rituals of excessive intake of food eventually take a toll on their health. Mukbangers can consume up to 3,000 calories in one sitting, leaving obesity as a threat. Dr. Bates, the assistant professor of surgery in the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, claims that even mukbangers who retain their weight may struggle to maintain their blood sugar levels. As these creators are constantly in a “fast or feast” mode, it can be difficult for their bodies to adjust to such erratic eating patterns. Mukbanger Nikocado Avocado stated that he “puts his body through hell for most videos” and that he saw an 80-pound weight gain after starting his mukbang journey. Because mukabangers indulge in massive amounts of food in short time frames, binge eating habits may develop, furthering health complications and putting them at