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Meok-Bang Trend In South Korea Turns Binge Eating Into Spectator Sport

"Dinner Porn" Turns Binge Eating Into South Korean Spectactor Sport
Afreeca TV/Screenshot

Combine the elements of competitive food eating, voyeurism and online porn and you turn the banal act of eating into marathon livestreamed video that has become a growing trend out of South Korea.

Toss in a small-boned, attractive woman with a bottomless pit of a stomach and the appetite of a football quarterback and you get “meok-bang,” the latest online fad to hit the web in South Korea, in which viewers tune in to regular people eating obscene amounts of food for hours, reports Kotaku, a gaming website that also tracks digital trends in Asia.

The word "meok-bang" is a mash-up of the Korean words for eating (meok-guh) and broadcast (bang song).

Heading the trend is a woman known as The Diva, a perky, young South Korean who works at a consulting agency by day, and turns into a “broadcast jockey” at night, shoveling an impressively large amount of foods into her stomach, says Kotaku.

In one sitting, she’ll throw back 35 eggs, a box of crab legs, or five packs of instant noodles.

And when she’s really hungry, she’ll pack down 12 hamburger beef patties, 12 fried eggs, three servings of spicy kimchi stew, and a green salad -- for a balanced meal.

Streamed on a peer-to-peer online video network called Afreeca TV, the medium allows viewers to make donations to their favourite online personalities by way of a virtual currency called Star Balloons, that can then be turned into real-world money.

And it’s thanks to the crowd-sourced funding that The Diva has been able to subsidize her incredible eating habits, which cost her about $3,000 a month, Kotaku reports.

Since beginning her show, The Diva says she’s put on 20 lbs (9 kg) -- minimal given the thousands of calories consumed every night. Her marathon eating sessions will begin at around 8 pm and last for around two hours.

And to answer allegations of purging, The Diva will also sit around answering fan questions and discussing food for another two hours after her meal, to allow the food to digest.

Meanwhile, social commentators and pundits theorize that the popularity of these marathon eating shows are more than just a strange fascination with pretty people eating, but the desire not to eat alone.

Writes Kotaku: “Watching The Diva's broadcasts is a bit like going to dinner with someone — and bringing the entire internet.”

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