Culture

Meet the South Korean YouTube Stars Making a Living off ‘Dinner Porn’

If you’re enjoying #foodporn on Instagram, South Korea’s “Mok-Bang” will be easy to digest. This internet craze has been going on for some time now, and YouTubers seem satisfied filling their tummies — and pockets — in one sitting.

Mok-Bang combines the Korean words for “eating” and “broadcast,” Kotaku notes. These videos are all about people stuffing themselves live on camera, with food in unusual amounts laid on their dinner tables.

Mok-Bang’s origin is heavily debated, but speculation has it that celebrities eating on reality shows make viewers hungry.  Whether that feels good or not, we’re not so sure.

Interestingly, Mok-Bang is also associated with ASMR, primarily because of sounds made when eating. ASMR stands for Auto Meridian Sensory Response, the technical term for “brain tingles.”

These tingles come from many sources referred to as “triggers,” and the munching, chewing and licking of food count. Tastemade tells these sounds can bring someone to relaxation or sleep, providing a pleasurable experience.

However, ASMR does not affect everyone, Munchies explains. According to the outlet, only part of the population “gets” it, and because the science behind it is scarce, the idea is more subjective.

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But as seen in Mok-Bang’s success, more and more people appreciate the pleasure brought by watching someone else eat, whatever that pleasure is called. The trend also catapulted many into becoming “food pornstars,” each having his/her own style of engaging viewers.

Popular food choices include ramen, pasta, chicken, soup, vegetables, seafood, dessert and a whole lot more. Options are virtually endless, if you think about it.

It is not unusual for Mok-Bang performers to have long videos, since the first few minutes attempt to bring viewers into “the mood.” Good ambiance and visually-appealing food add value to the entire broadcast, the same way talking, whispering and eating do. ASMR is not all about sounds, after all.

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And the good news is, Mok-Bang performers earn from entertaining. Afreeca TV, a YouTube-like network, allows viewers to give live-streamers Star Balloons, its virtual currency. As per Kotaku, the currency is sold in denominations from $1 to $50.

Choi Ji-hwan, a 24-year-old Mok-Bang performer earns about $1,880 a month following expense deduction, Wall Street Journal reported in 2014.

The Diva, another popular live-streamer, quit her job at a consulting firm to focus on Mok-Bang. She earns $9,000 a month. Now that’s serious business. 

Some might find the booming trend difficult to grasp, but perhaps we can all agree on one thing: Happy eating!

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