In South Korea, where the majority are constantly glued to their smartphones and connected to the virtual world, it is almost expected that many interactions, even dining, are done virtually. While solitary dining is frowned upon in a very social culture like that of this Eastern Asian country, it is a phenomenon that is unstoppable. A leading factor is that, recently, the number of Koreans living alone is steadily rising.
While in some countries people are warming up to the idea of dining by themselves with restaurants like Eenmaal encouraging it, in South Korea, they have found a different way of making dining solo a little more interesting, interactive, and not much to be too conscious about. They call it “mok-bang”, a combination of two Korean words which mean “eat” and “room”. They set up their equipment and a table filled with food. When they are ready, the camera will start rolling and everyone can see them devour their meal with much gusto.
AfreecaTV hosts the channels of these “broadcast jockeys”. As these BJs do their thing, the viewers can comment and ask questions in the chat-rooms and the BJs can respond in real time. When the viewers like what they see, they give the BJs Star Balloons. Although it is a virtual currency equivalent to 10 US cents (USD), the BJs can cash them out and the company makes money by taking a cut. Some BJs are so popular that they can live off the money they make from broadcasting alone.
Mok-bang is not a current trend. It’s been going on for quite a while but has recently attracted attention beyond South Korean shores.
Do you think the concept of eating in front of thousands of viewers will catch on to the rest of the world?