Mukbang or “Eat” Your Way To Celebrity 2


The Internet has again proven, that even the wildest and the most bizarre ideas can find interested and responsive audience.

When I was writing my blog post “Eat” Your Way to Celebrity a couple months back, I thought that the example of watching a TV show where people only eat – was a little over the top. I used that as an exaggeration and compared it to watching music without an active participation of the audience.

Little did I know that such a type of a show already existed.

Yes, you read it correctly. It is called Mukbang (eating broadcasting) or Social Eating and as a unique phenomenon has been popular in South Korea for more than five years.
Living in one of the most high tech countries in the World also means that people spend a huge amount of time in front of a screen – computer, smartphone or TV. And although these gadgets are supposed to help people get together through the social media and communication, they still are not able to replace a real human interaction. Especially young generation often suffers from loneliness.

What is a better way to fight loneliness than a social bonding over meals. This is how our ancestors survived while sharing food around a campfire. The bizarre part of this modern gluttony and indulgence is, that participants don’t share food. They even don’t share the same physical space and presence of others.

The most powerful bonding is the experience itself. That brings together thousands of viewers or voyeurs of these “food-porn” shows and their BJ’s (broadcast jockeys) stars. They gather on specialized live-stream channels on the to share online slurping, gulping, chewing and moaning produced by BJ’s as they are eating huge amounts of food. Here is a documentary about Mukbang where the featured image of BJ Diva is from.

The stars get nicely paid for their performances either by viewers or by sponsors. The only problem could be their growing waist size. But these are mostly young people , who can burn those calories fast. BJ Patoo, is only 14-year-old broadcaster, for example.

The reason why I have decided to follow up on my previous ‘Eating’ post is that if the virtual social eating is capable of attracting millions of viewers, I am absolutely convinced that active music making has a much larger potential.

It is hard to replace the direct human contact by the technology. But if the online communication is the only possibility, than musicking allows participants much more experience and exchange than eating. Fast internet almost eliminates problems with latency and so it is possible to have musicians playing together and still reside on different continents.

It is clear to me, that unlike musicking, eating is an activity everyone is familiar with. But if young people in South Korea, or anywhere else, are trying to find ways how to conquer loneliness and meaningfully spend time with others – mindful musicking is a good solution to try.

As the great English poet William Shakespeare wrote:

 ‘If music be the food of love, play on’.


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