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Eating Vicariously — South Korea feeds the online voyeur fad

By Sylvannia Soulet     Jan 30, 2014 in Food
Seoul - People in South Korea clamour to watch others enjoy elaborate meals in an online fad that is taking the country by storm.
It sounds like any midnight-snacker’s dream come true.
Park Seo-yeon is an average woman with a less-than-average means of making a living. On a nightly basis, starting between the hours or 8-9 PM, the 34 year-old fires up her computer and lets strangers watch as she sits and consumes large quantities of food.
This practice, known as meokbang, is quickly becoming the fastest growing fad amongst the connected people of South Korea. Contrary to the “feeder porn” fetish of Western countries — where obese participants gorge themselves with the end goal of stimulating viewers — meokbang, or “gastronomic voyeurism,” has no sexual undercurrent — people just want to watch Park eat.
“People enjoy the vicarious pleasure with my online show when they can’t eat that much, or don’t want to eat food at night, or are on a diet,” Park told reporters for Reuters.
Park, known as “The Diva” to her fans, is able to sustain herself financially with her hobby. She has since left her lucrative day job at a consulting firm to devote herself fully to making broadcasts on Afreeca TV. There, devoted fans express their appreciation by sending Park tips in the form of virtual balloons of varying denominations.
The hobby is not without its consequences, however. Since performing the broadcasts, Park has gained 20 pounds, and though she earns $9,000 a month from her livestreams, she spends one-third of what she makes on the food she eventually prepares and eats in front of the camera.
Meokbang has not quite caught on here in North America; however, a Canadian channel on Youtube, Epic Meal Time, has popularized and fed Western audiences' appeal for the growing trend of "food porn."
More about South Korea, Food, Eating, vicariously, mokbang
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