For years, people have been heading to YouTube to spend upwards of 60 minutes at a time to watch strangers consume 4,000 or more calories in one sitting. Not only that, many of these viewers are paying to indulge in this binge-viewing, binge-eating privilege. It’s called mukbang.
Mukbang is pronounced “mook-bong”, and it translates to “eating broadcast” in South Korea, where professional mukbangers can make up to $10,000 a month — not including sponsorships from food and drink brands.
Simon Stawski, a Canadian blogger who co-founded Eat Your Kimchi, moved to South Korea in 2008. Mukbanging first came onto his radar in 2014, but it wasn’t until 2015 that it became the kind of phenomenon that crosses continents.
A big part of the mukbanging experience is the potential ASMR component. ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response” and people who experience this phenomenon claim they receive immense pleasure from watching or listening to everyday habits like whispering, hair brushing, folding clothes and more.
Mukbangers may chow down on everything from dozens of bowls of ramen, to buckets of KFC, multiple pizzas, piles of crab legs, pails of candy and even heaping helpings of salad.
Despite the sensory allure of mukbangers’ videos, doctors and dietitians warn that this viral trend can be dangerous to both types of consumers.
“Although some viewers report they watch these videos as a way to satisfy their own food cravings to help them stay on track with their weight loss plans, the nature of mukbang videos can trigger disordered eating patterns in susceptible viewers,” Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, told TODAY. And for the mukbangers themselves, there’s a plethora of risks, including triggering a heart attack and developing insulin resistance.