SEOUL, June 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Dieters have turned out to be one of the secrets behind the success of ‘meokbang’, a unique internet culture originating in South Korea where people stream themselves binge eating for viewers.
According to a research team at Ewha Womans University, many of those who are on a diet in South Korea enjoy watching other people binge eat as part of their weight loss regimen.
The team announced yesterday they came to the conclusion after conducting in-depth interviews with 14 people in their 20s and 30s.
The ironic revelation explains the interesting rise of meokbang in South Korean society, where growing body image pressure is seeing numerous diets spawn out of the social phenomenon.
All participants in the study said they watched meokbang despite being aware of the fact that binge eating is unhealthy and can lead to obesity.
Most of the dishes typically featured on meokbang shows are high in calories, including sweet and sour pork, chicken, pizza and cake, far exceeding the recommended daily caloric intake for the average person.
However, researchers found viewers of meokbang programs receive a sense of vicarious satisfaction from watching others eat an unhealthy amount of food.
Instead of following their eating style, researchers found most viewers were put off eating by watching the worrying caloric intake of meokbang performers.
Typical reactions that followed after watching meokbang included ‘what would happen to me if I ate like that?’, or ‘it made me want to exercise,” hinting at the immense societal pressure placed on appearance.
“Of the 14 participants who were chosen as regular meokbang viewers in their 20s and 30s, nine were on a diet. To them, meokbang performers are rebels against the body image expectations of society,” said the researchers in their report.
Meokbang performers have received international media coverage from the likes of CNN in recent years, which many believe is a phenomenon that spawned out of social issues such as loneliness.