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The New South Korean Internet Fad: Watching Other People Eat Online

Nov 19, 2014 at 10:47 AM ET

If you thought food porn’s signature dish was an Instagram photo of your goat cheese kale salad, you haven’t witnessed South Korea’s latest fad: Mokbang.

The term, a blend of Korean words for “eating” and “broadcast”, is the finest form of gastronomic voyeurism. It consists of young performers making a living by live streaming themselves eating huge amounts of food in front of a computer. Moaning with culinary pleasure, these food porn stars interact with thousands of viewers each day. From instant messaging to menu discussions, noodle tastings and chopsticks debates, welcome to the world of Mokbang.

This latest trend runs on a “gift economy” business model where viewers are able to send the performers star balloons, which they exchange for cash. The virtual currency is sold in denominations raging from $1-$50 and the Mokbang stars are able to earn up to thousands of dollars each broadcast.

Nearly 25% of people live alone in South Korea today and are no longer able to share a meal with their families. As a result, more and more young people are turning to the web to find friends they can eat with. Vocativ was invited by one of the top Mokbang stars to to join him for lunch….Mokbang Style