Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Global Good Eats

Norway does slow TV. Korea doesn't binge watching. Literally. 

A big (post-)TV phenomenon in South Korea in the last couple of years has been the rise of the Muhk-Bang, literally "eating room." Generally, the broadcast (or more specifically webcast) consists of a (usually pretty, usually female) host sitting for hours at a time eating. Not just eating, eating prodigiously: say, multiple orders of chicken, several bowls of noodles, and a pizza. 

Theories to account for the popularity of the practice describe an increasingly atomized culture, full of urbanities living alone in tiny apartments, desperate for mealtime company. Others ascribe some of it to a heightened culture of highly normative beauty standards (it jockeys with Brazil for the highest global rate of plastic surgery per capita) that stresses self-denial and strict dieting. 

And then there's the fact that some of the pretty hosts seem to fetch a premium for loud slurping. 

Some notable coverage:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this, JJ. That's really interesting that they now have entire shows with just people eating without any narrative diversions. While this is a relatively new phenomenon, eating scenes have been used extensively in Korean dramas to convey different emotional states (protagonists eat at just about every stage of a relationship) and to establish character traits (hearty eaters are usually warm and extroverted). Here's a clip from 'A Love to Kill', a 2005 Kdrama starring two of the biggest stars in the industry -Bi Rain and Shin Min Ah: Reeling from her breakup with Rain, Shin Min Ah proceeds to stuff herself at dinner while her family looks on in amazement. The episode features scenes of her eating through her depression intercut with footage of her ex-boyfriend's refusal to eat, and ultimately getting hospitalized as a result.

    A recent drama called 'Let's Eat' also deals with similar themes, looking at how four single people leading atomized lives come together over their love for food. Each episode features food from a different sponsor and involves detailed descriptions of items and some really, really good food porn. You can see the English-language trailer here: