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Let’s Eat! – or how Mukbang cures the lonely souls

Mukbang cures the lonely souls

It is a well known fact that Koreans love food.  They love it so much that they even have the so called Mukbang shows!

Mukbang (the term comes from the Korean words for “eating” (먹는; meokneun) and “broadcast” (방송; bangsong) is basically an audiovisual broadcast in which the host eats large amounts of food. The viewer is basically watching someone eat. And Eat in a very delicious way as you can hear the slurping and chewing noises.

From time to time there is even interaction with the viewer. Usually the whole thing is done through an internet broadcast and there is a chatroom available (sometimes with payment or donations).

The reasons as to which this cultural trend exists are many.  Most cultural critics – such as Jeff Yang- states that “the loneliness of unmarried or uncoupled [South]Koreans” is at the origin of this practice. Another aspect would be the social aspect of eating in a social group.

Eating alone can be alienating. The dinner table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is an excuse to catch up and talk, one of the few times where people are happy to put aside their work and take time out of their day. The people living alone find comfort in watching these kinds of shows as they feel less lonely.

With time, Mukbang shows became such a widely known practice in South Korea that the act itself was the inspiration of many different variations of “Eating Broadcasting” concept.

They even made a drama series ( now running on 3’rd season) called Let’s Eat (Hangul: 식사를 합시다; RR: Siksyareul Habsida).

 

The drama is focused on people who were brought together due to their love of food.

The show had such an impact that the restaurants explored episodically by the characters, especially the featured foods, became a hot topic and the viewers sought out those restaurants.

It became a real hunt down in the real life of the delicious meals the viewers saw in the dramas.

Each episode of “Let’s Eat” highlights a traditional Korean favorite such as Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi stew), Jokbal (glazed pig’s feet), Tteokbokki (hot and spicy rice cakes), Mandoo (Korean dumpling) , Gan-jang Ge-jang and many more.

Each highlighted dish of the episode ends up one of the top- searched keywords on Korean Internet portals.
Some fans even requested to know the location of the restaurants shown in the drama.

 

In order to please the fans, CJ E&M organized the “Social Dining” program in which people could meet on the show’s official webpage and explore restaurants as a group and share thoughts about drama.

 

“What makes Let’s Eat work is that it draws on themes of modern isolation and loneliness, juxtaposed with the traditional as symbolized by delicious Korean foods. With this, the younger generation of viewers can really connect and relate to,” said Park Jun Hwa, the show’s chief producer.

“At CJ E&M, we are actively experimenting and pursuing creative new approaches for our programs which are not only winning a wide following, but also redefining the Korean drama genre.”He states.

As such, I invite you all to share a hearth warming meal!

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