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What Is a Mukbang?

Rachelle has been an online writer for more than nine years and enjoys writing about celebrities, tech, TV, video games, and true crime.

Bethany Gaskin of Bloveslife

Bethany Gaskin of Bloveslife

History and Definition of Mukbang

Traditionally, Mukbang is a video where a person eats a large amount of food while conversing with an audience. The person eating the food is called a host, so one "hosts a Mukbang."

The video can either be broadcast live or prerecorded, and it is usually distributed via the web on streaming services like afreecaTV—this is where the Mukbang videos first gained popularity.

The word Mukbang is a combination word (portmanteau) for the Korean words for "eating" (먹는; meokneun) and "broadcast" (방송; bangsong).

Mukbang came into existence in the 2010s in South Korea. During the Mukbang broadcast, all kinds of food ranging from pizza to sushi are consumed on camera. In most situations, the hosts are paid to perform, which generally prompts them to consume unusually large amounts of food or odd foods.

With the rise of people making money on the internet, many Mukbang hosts have earned huge incomes either by accepting donations or becoming paid partners with ad networks. It is important to note that there are many smaller hosts who earn a full-time living producing Mukbang videos, but most of the focus is on the biggest hosts.

Some of the most famous traditional Mukbang hosts include: BJ The Diva, Yang Soobin, BJ Fitness Fairy, Banzz (벤쯔), BJ Hyo-Jjang, BJ Patoo. I commonly refer to the term “host” in this article, but the more popular term for Mukbang hosts in South Korea is “broadcast jockey.” The "BJ" in front of some of the names of the famous Mukbang hosts I listed above, stands for Broadcast Jockey.

Traditional Historic South Korean Mukbang Broadcast Jockey on aFreecaTV (Lao)

Traditional Historic South Korean Mukbang Broadcast Jockey on aFreecaTV (Lao)

Mukbang on YouTube

Slowly but surely, the Mukbang sensation has reached the shores of the United States, and it has found its way onto YouTube. In fact, the popular South Korean traditional Mukbang host, Banzz (벤쯔), has more than half a billion views and 2.4M subscribers on Google's video streaming service. Yes, you read that correctly, he has half a billion YouTube views.

Popular Mukbang channels on YouTube include SAS-ASMR, Nikocado Avocado, Bloveslife, Wendy's Eating Show, and Steph Pappas. The hosts of some of these shows earn enough money from their Mukbang videos to live comfortable lives.

The biggest Mukbang hosts on YouTube perform the traditional eating shows where they regularly consume huge amounts of food. In the United States, diet and lifestyle-based diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease rates are staggering.

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Food Reviewers & Mukbangs

Mukbangs have also become popular with food reviewers who stream their reviews of popular restaurants across the United States; audiences are drawn to watching the hosts eat the food they review.

Some of the more popular food review channels include TheReportOfTheWeek, Daym Drops, and JoeysWorldTour. Although he has one of the biggest food review channels on YouTube, Daymon Patterson has just announced he will no longer exclusively do food reviews, so you may notice the platform change if you click on the link to visit his channel.

YouTube Viewers LOVE to watch Mukbang Videos!

YouTube Viewers LOVE to watch Mukbang Videos!

Mukbang Similarities to ASMR Videos

In some cases, viewers are physically stimulated by watching their hosts eat. In the case of Autonomous sensory meridian response videos (ASMR) that feature food, devotees experience a static-like, tingling sensation in response to hearing the sounds of video hosts eating food.

Food consumption ASMR videos have become yet another popular eating trend on YouTube, and they are closely related to Mukbang videos. For a Mukbang host to convert their videos into ASMR videos, all that is needed is to add a high-quality microphone. The ASMR experience will be complete when the host exaggerates their slurping and crunching sounds into the microphone.

The simple fact of the matter is that people derive pleasure from watching someone else cook and eat, it is entertaining for the audiences, and it can be financially rewarding for the broadcast jockeys and hosts.

Steph Pappas: THE BEST CHICKEN EVER! Raising Canes MUKBANG! (Eating Show)

Delve Into the World of Mukbang

If you choose to dive into the world of Mukbang, do not go into it seeking manners and polite conversation, because all that goes completely out the window!

What you will find is people lost in enjoying their food, and audiences lost in enjoying watching them eat their food, while sometimes engaging in a crazy or funny conversation along the way.

© 2018 Rachelle Williams


Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on November 24, 2019:

Bethany, from Bloveslife, describes how to start a Mukbang channel here:

Tassie, from Tassie Eats describes how to start a Mukbang channel here:

Alex mims on November 24, 2019:

How do I get started

Rachelle Williams (author) from Tempe, AZ on July 10, 2018:

You're most welcome Linda! It's a trend that has made content creators millions of dollars...

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 06, 2018:

I've never heard of Mukbang before. It sounds very strange to me that people would enjoy watching someone eat. It was interesting to learn how popular the process is. Thank you for the education!