‘Mukbang’ is one of the most popular content of social media platforms in Korea. However, there are numerous regulations of the government regarding this. Let's take a closer look into these regulation. ............................. Ed
In our society, there exists food consumption and "food eating behavior." From the Internet to TV programs, there is no place where mukbang does not exist. Mukbang, a combination of the Korean words 'muk-da' (eating) and 'bang-song' (broadcasting), started gaining popularity around 2014 and has become a trend ever since. As far as the steady popularity of mukbang is concerned, experts cite the increase in single-person households as the main reason. As the family type changes, mukbang is performed to solve the solitude of eating alone.
In addition, mukbang has become a culture and the representative contents of Korea due to various factors. Users have access to a variety of foods and could indirectly satisfy their appetite for food. It has had a positive impact on the food industry. The "mukbang" term is also receiving a lot of attention overseas as it is translated into a proper noun. However, there is controversy over the content. Demand and supply for mukbang content gradually increased and they became “saturated.” In order to gain profit from it, mukbang is emerging in a more stimulating and dangerous form. In Japan, a YouTube influencer died while engaging in mukbang. Furthermore, experts are also concerned about the impact of eating too much, too fast, or excessively on viewers. In response, some people point out that government-level regulations are necessary.
ST conducted a brief survey to find out what Soongsilians think about this situation. According to the survey, 98.7% of the respondents have seen these eating shows. When they were asked if they were influenced by the actual eating habits of the influencers while watching mukbang, 69.7% of them responded with “yes.” As for “whether regulations related to mukbang are necessary,” 55.3% said that they were not needed, while 44.7% said that regulations were needed. In other words, most Soongsilians who experienced watching mukbang were affected by the eating habits involved, but opinion was found to be at odds in terms of the need for regulation. Students who felt that there is no need to regulate mukbang's regulations, expressed opinions such as "the viewer should control himself" and "it is an infringement of autonomy." On the contrary, there were opinions such as "regulation should be imposed because it could have a negative impact on children" and "there are many extreme cases that need to be resolved."
In fact, the regulatory move against mukbang has been in place since 2018. The government said it would come up with a so-called mukbang guideline that would prevent mukbang from happening at night, considering that it contributes to obesity. The phrase “establishment of guidelines and monitoring system for media and advertisements for binge-eating farms,” which was controversial due to the “Comprehensive Measures for National Obesity Management (2018-2022)” announced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, was also interpreted as mukbang regulation. This led to a war of words among the Internet users. The Ministry of Health and Welfare drew the line by saying, "The mukbang regulation is groundless." According to a survey by Seoul National University Hospital (2019), half of the people are in favor of the mukbang regulation. Controversy surrounding mukbang's regulation is still a hot issue. The provision and use of mukbang content is a free commercial activity, so legal regulation is difficult. However, over time, this problem will affect not only mukbang users, but also providers. Therefore, broadcasters, Internet broadcasters, and users will have to create an atmosphere that can be self-purified.
Yeom Da-yeon (ST Reporter)