SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Korea Bizwire) – Pronounced “howl” in Korean, “haul” is to shopping what “mukbang” is to food.
An online phenomenon exclusive to South Korea, mukbang refers to a vlogger filming him or herself consuming vast amounts of food all in one sitting while simultaneously continuing to hold a conversation with viewers.
Swap out the dishes of pork and noodles with shoes, clothes, or even dollar-store paraphernalia, and the viewer is now watching “haul”.
“Hi everyone, I’m back with a shopping haul from Paris. I don’t know how much all of this is altogether, but I think it’s maybe 14 million won? 15 million won? I saw in the comments section that someone accused me of showing off that I’m rich, but I’m just showing off the things I bought. You feel vicarious satisfaction and feel good. Checking out pretty things is always better together.”
A short bit from one of the most popular YouTube personalities specializing in showcasing her shopping hauls, this individual has become just one of many on Instagram, Facebook and other online platforms that have found an eager audience amongst South Korea’s tech-savvy, smartphone-wielding youth.
Now a keyword in its own right, haul is roughly analogous to the #unboxing clips worldwide that show individuals unwrapping their various purchases.
While the above segment from a haul video veered towards the pricier end, hauls are not limited to strictly European luxury goods. The existence of “cosmetics haul” and “Daiso haul” – a haul from the Korean-Japanese equivalent to a dollar store – push the boundaries of what constitutes a proper haul, and more importantly, what sort of haul viewers actually enjoy watching.
On January 29, data analysis firm Daumsoft found views on YouTube for Daiso hauls were a respectable 600,000 in 2015 but exploded to 22.7 million in one year. Last year, views were counted at 23.3 million.
Videos of “haulers” who raid big-box retailer E-mart and cheerfully array their booty before their audience were found to be growing in popularity as well, albeit far more slowly. “E-mart haul” views went from 1.23 million in 2015 to nearly triple that tally in 2017 with 3.2 million views.
Meanwhile, the high-end hauls continue to receive the lion’s share of online attention; popular YouTube personality Lena (Lena’s Pocket Beauty) recently earned 2.6 million and 2.2 million views for her videos showcasing purchases costing 8 million won and 15 million won, respectively.
While some viewers agree that watching these videos provides vicarious satisfaction and good vibes, others remain uncertain.
On Twitter, tweets like “whenever I watch these I feel like I’m the one who bought them, so I feel happy” and “I don’t even care much for luxury goods but these videos are so fun” contrast with heavier fare such as “I know it’s supposed to be a vicarious thing, but if I watch too many of these videos in a row, a sense of deprivation grows stronger”.