We don't know about you, but we have a serious thing for food TV shows. We live for the drama of Top Chef and Chopped. The Barefoot Contessa is our idol. We even like a little Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on occasion (Don't judge!). And, it's not just us. Considering the number of Instagram photos of #eggsbenedict you all take at #brunch, food porn has firmly become a part our eating culture.
So, perhaps it's no surprise that the food porn phenomenon has officially gone to the next level. A rapidly growing trend in South Korea called meok-bang — literally, "broadcast eating" — depicts people, usually young women, simply eating large meals. Time reports that over 3,500 of these shows have sprung up in Korea, mostly homegrown Youtube channels started by enterprising eaters. And, a friendly interactive community has formed around the practice. Thousands tune in to weekly or daily livestreams of their favorite star eaters, sending in comments (and donations). One of the most well-known stars, Park Seo-yeon (a.k.a. "the Diva," as her fans know her), makes over $9,000 a month from fan donations; one meal netted her nearly $100,000. Pro eaters out there, take note.
What makes this new form of food voyeurism so popular? As Park told The Independent, "People enjoy the vicarious pleasure when they can't eat this much or find that food at night or are on a diet." She also cites loneliness as a major factor, as the community atmosphere provides a place for people who simply want some human interaction while they eat. Indeed, Park says she's making a real difference in the lives of her viewers — a number of whom have told her that watching her dine has helped them overcome their own eating disorders. Our preliminary take? We're just really, really hungry. (Time / Reuters / The Independent)