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What Does Mukbang Mean and Could It Be Dangerous?

mukbanger eating in front of the camera

Mukbang. It’s a weird word that’s — obviously — not from the English language. You don’t remember it from school or recall your friends mentioning it. So, why does it keep mysteriously appearing in your browsing history every time the kids use a family PC?

You dread to ask, but should you be worried about the mukbang trend?

Below, you’ll find complete answers to the questions that have been keeping you awake at night. Here’s what mukbang is and whether or not it’s any reason for concern.

Part 1: What Is Mukbang?

 food in a mukbang video

Mukbang is an online trend that has been around for a long time. It was born in Korea in 2010, from where it quickly exploded and took the world by storm. Since its beginnings, millions of people have participated in this trend, making it slightly more popular than it deserves.

So, what exactly is mukbang?

Mukbang is a form of video content that showcases people eating food.

Wait — that couldn’t be it. What could be so interesting about people eating that attracts billions of views on YouTube and social media? There must be a catch, right?

Surprisingly, no. Sure, there are different mukbang videos, some more creative than others. Depending on the creator, mukbang can be a professionally produced eating contest or a filter-free TikTok of someone enjoying their meal. Many mukbangs are live-streamed.

Part 2: What Does Mukbang Mean?

mukbang meaning and definition

You don’t have to worry. Mukbang is not a naughty or offensive word.

On the contrary: mukbang was one of Collins Dictionary’s Words of 2020.

It’s a blend of two Korean words — meongneun (먹는) and bangsong (방송). Respectively, they mean “eating” and “broadcast.” Put them together, and you’ll get the word meokbang (먹방), meaning broadcasting someone who is eating. We could say — eatcasting.

Mukbang creators and video hosts are popularly called mukbangers.

If, while cleaning your browsing history after your kids, you stumble upon a search term that says mukbang BJ, don’t worry about it — it sounds worse than it is. It only means mukbang broadcast jockeys, which is how Korean mukbang live streamers call themselves.

Part 3:ASMR Mukbang Variations

mukbanger recording asmr sound

Mukbang videos can vary from funny and quirky to avant-garde and gross. By concept, this trend leans heavily on exhibitionism. Mukbang videos sometimes contain questionable creative choices, but they mostly resemble those meal prep videos flooding your feed.

In fact, mukbang and meal prep videos have a lot in common. Both of these trends exploit our basic cravings associated with consuming delicious food. The most recognizable element they rely on is ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) or — brain tingles.

What is ASMR, and why does it sound like a live stream of brain surgery?

If you’ve ever watched a video of someone unwrapping and chewing candy and enjoyed it, that’s ASMR. Every exaggerated sound that feels soothing or sends pleasant tingles down your spine counts as ASMR, an online audio/video editing trend originating from mukbang.

Of course, there are many other types of mukbang videos besides ASMR.

You’ve probably heard about Hot Ones, a YouTube talk show where celebrities from Shaq to Neil deGrasse Tyson and Charlize Theron answer hot questions while eating hotter wings. That version of the mukbang trend is popular as storytime or interview mukbang.

Part 4: Why Are Mukbang Videos Popular?

a popular mukbang video

If you have to ask what the appeal of mukbang is, you haven’t seen it.

For years, social media goers have relished these types of videos — whether they include preparing, unpacking, or consuming food. While everyone can play favorites, mukbang is, without any question, the most engaging kind of video where mouth-watering food is the main star.

One theory suggests that mukbang is popular because of the old communal ritual of eating, where the social aspect is a crucial part of the experience. Humanity has lost this kind of social interaction during the pandemic, so it makes sense that we’re doing it online.

Every type of food tastes sweeter when you share it. You can’t deny that.

Besides, watching other people eat greasy fat food is oddly fulfilling. Many people say that watching mukbang videos helps them deal with intense cravings by feeding their eyes or grossing them out. To many viewers, it’s a way to cope with unhealthy eating habits.

Check out this short video that shows the appeal of mukbang videos.

Part 5: Dangers of Mukbanging

seafood mukbang

Unfortunately, mukbang videos have the opposite effect on many people.

Unlike most online trends that come and go in an instant, this one has been around long enough for scientists to study it. However, when it comes to the potential dangers of mukbang, research shows inconclusive results. Mukbang videos are either your friend or your enemy.

The unbeatable truth is that the vast majority of mukbang videos show people consuming food that is unhealthy or eaten in large quantities. Here are some starts reflecting that:

  • About 83.% of mukbang videos showcase overeating in some form.
  • About 5.6% of mukbang videos contain extremely spicy or irritating food.
  • Around 0.6% of mukbang videos show eating non-hygienic or dangerous food.

Over the years, several mukbangers have suffered health complications due to eating large quantities of unhealthy food in bizarre eating challenges. At least three of them died.

So, is mukbanging dangerous? Is it time to discuss it with your kids?

To a varying degree, all teenagers are susceptible to influences and insecure about their looks. If your kid struggles with any eating disorder — excessive dieting or overeating — mukbang can be pretty destructive for their gentle health, motivation, and confidence.

Part 6: How to Protect Your Kids From Online Trends

an underaged mukbanger

Mukbanging is undoubtedly not harmless fun nor a healthy role model that teens should follow. For many kids, it’s just that — a slightly wrong pastime but not dangerous. If your kid has healthy habits and doesn’t show any signs of an eating disorder, it’s mostly harmless.

The question is — can you know for sure that your child is immune to risk?

When it comes to the health of our children, most of us would rather not risk it. Wouldn't you instead protect your kids from any online trends that are potentially harmful?

If yes, you should consider using a parental control app.

It’s less nosy than it sounds. Tracking apps for parents can give you complete control over your kids’ devices, but you don’t have to listen to their phone calls or read their texts if you trust them. Better apps, like Wondershare FamiSafe, have other more valuable features.

FamiSafe automatically filters out all harmful content, including YouTube videos, social media posts, and private messages that might be violent, aggressive, or harmful, like mukbang. You can customize what your kids can see and add websites and apps to the blacklist.

You can also tag specific keywords and get a notification when your kids use them. For example, FamiSafe will alert you if they try searching for the term mukbang or if somebody sends them a link to a mukbang video. It might feel restrictive, but it’s for their safety.

FamiSafe Explicit Content Detection

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As long as you watch it on an empty stomach, mukbang food is not very dangerous. However, be careful — it can cause cravings and open up your appetite. That could be very dangerous for people with eating disorders and low self-esteem. It’s best to consume it in tiny bites or not at all.

editor image

Joanne Croft

staff Editor