Let me be specific: This is about the sometimes-messy job of eating on TV -- not cooking, not restaurant remodeling, not business entrepreneurship of the culinary.
One of the biggest shows comes from participant/host Choi Ji-hwan, dressed in all kinds of military or uniform attire (appealing presumably because men in South Korea have to spend mandatory time in the armed forces.)
Because the TV show is streaming on Afreeca TV, a YouTube channel, Ji-hwan can see feedback from viewers coming from texts. Nearly 260,000 have subscribed to this nightly gluttony webcast since the show began less than two years ago, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s a new kind of reality-TV show for sure, known as "mokbang” which means "eating broadcast."
Unlike U.S. contests for eating hot dogs, say, this isn’t about the best or the most. It’s about watching people eat food -- all kind of comestibles, everything from noodles to whipped-cream-covered cakes to fried chicken -- the last two especially for another food host called “The Diva.”
Perhaps more than other countries, eating is a communal affair in South Korea. If people are living alone, watching -- and hearing-- other people eating, might be comforting. For others, not so much.
Already this trend has spilled over into some traditional network TV programs in Australia.
We’re not sure what kind of sponsorship could be involved in such endeavors. Napkins, moist towelettes, perhaps?
More importantly, we are wondering if all this could be the next step for cooking shows in this country, or for shows that examine other, more private home activities.
We can only hope the next group of TV programs will include people washing and scrubbing their hands and face, with perhaps even a few pots and pans clanging in dish soap. That would make some good lead-out programming for the messy affair of Mokbang.