Millennials & Mukbang – why does it work?

Mukbang, starting in Korea in 2009 soon became a worldwide phenomenon where hundreds of mukbang videos started to be uploaded to Youtube in 2015. The huge question about it is, why? 

To begin, let’s understand what mukbang is. Mukbang also spelled as meokbang is normally known as an eating show where the creator eats large amounts of food while interacting with the audience. Mukbang began in South Korea, typically live streams were around dinnertime to make viewers feel like they were enjoying a meal with somebody.  Over time, mukbang transitioned into pre-recorded videos where the creator has casual conversations to create a bond with the audience without being live. 

A huge question that viewers themselves can’t seem to answer is, why do we watch mukbang? What is so enjoyable about watching others eat? The largest part of the enjoyment is the neurological factor related to ASMR (autonomous sensory-motor response), which can give a tingling sensation going down the spine or on the scalp. The sounds of eating, chewing, slurping, and swallowing along with the visual appeal of the food set-up can give these same triggers. 

While there can be positive and relaxing benefits to watching mukbang there are concerns related as well. For example, those struggling with eating disorders or those with unhealthy relationships with food can get easily triggered. Watching these creators eat large amounts of food can create a trigger to binge, or restrict. 

The more millennials living alone are being drawn to mukbang, and getting enjoyment out of it. While Americans are changing the mukbang culture as it is becoming more and more sensationalized, there are hopes that the companionship values remain, rather than eating as much as possible purely just to draw people in. 

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