In America, they pay to watch people eat to satisfy our weird fetishes. In South Korea, people pay to have a friend at the dinner table.
Meet Park Seo-yeon, who makes $9,000 a month from fans who like to watch her eat for hours each day, Reuters reports. Every night Seo-yeon — known as “The Diva” online — cooks elaborate meals and chows down in front of a camera, while chatting with adoring fans. Meanwhile, she’s getting tips in the form of online currency that can be exchanged for cash.
But the live-streams aren’t considered “feeder porn” like they might be in America. There’s no sex or nudity involved. The Internet craze is called “Meok-Bang” and it cures loneliness and hunger pangs.
“People enjoy the vicarious pleasure of my online show when they can’t eat that much, don’t want to eat food at night, or are on a diet,” Seo-yeon told Reuters.
In South Korea, one-person households are extremely common and on the rise. Reuters reports that one-person households could comprise a third of the population in 15 years. That’s a lot of lonely dinners.
And then there was Seo-yeon.
The Diva has made her rounds on the blogs before. Kotaku first reported on her late last year, noting that she’s spent up to $5,000 a month on high-end food for her late-night hobby.
By day, she works at a consulting agency [she later quit that job to eat full-time]. By night? She eats. A lot. The Diva streams daily starting between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., with her broadcasts going on for hours. As with many mok-bang streams, it’s a seemingly endless parade of delicious food, whether that’s yummy Korean food, pizza, pasta, steak, you name it.
But don’t get too excited about your newfound career — Seo-yeon is a big celebrity in South Korea, where as many as 3,500 Meok-Bangers are household names.