We talk about why mukbangs are really popular in Korea. Mukbang is a Korean word and is something that started in Korea. It’s when people eat food during a livestream. To a western audience, it can be confusing why they are so popular. Often news articles give reasons such as more people live alone now and they feel lonely so they feel less alone if it feels like someone else is having a meal with them. While this is part of it, the real reason also has to do with Korea’s history and culture and the love of watching people eat. While in western cultures seeing someone eat and hearing food noises can be off-putting, it is something you see on Korean TV all the time. Less time is spent showing the cooking and more time is given to watching celebrity guests eat the food, often with the camera very close to their mouths. The way South Korea rapidly became a developed country influences Koreans’ relationships with food. Hugh remembers growing up with not that much food and that meat was very expensive. His parents only ate meat a few times a year when they grew up in those troubled decades. When a mother could cook well for her children she took enjoyment in watching them eat the food. To be told that you are “eating well” in Korea is a compliment as people want to see that you are enjoying the food and eating a lot. With such an abundance of food in modern Korea and many people on diets, mukbangs fill a void where people can see someone “eating well” and live through them, rather than actually eating themselves.