Korea’s popular video-streaming website “afreecaTV” is drawing lots of viewers who are logging in to watch “meokbang”.

In Korean, this literally means “eating broadcasting. ”

There is a long list of eye-catching channels and thumbnail photos showing video-jockeys (VJs) cooking and eating all kinds of food.

The number of viewers watching each channel is posted on a real-time basis, pitting the shows against each other

Visitors can watch the VJs eat their meals by means of web cameras.

Menus range from a bowl of jjajangmyeon (noodles in a black bean sauce), ramen, bibimbap or a bucket of fried chicken, to a huge pot of seafood stew, pasta or pizza

Watching VJs devouring great amounts of food, netizens have “vicarious” satisfaction.

This trend began online in 2008.

The driving force behind some 3,500 meokbang shows is financial reward.

Popular VJs get cashable virtual balloons or chocolates from viewers.

A popular meokbang VJ whose nickname is “TheDiva” quit her day job at a consulting firm to devote herself to her online career She earns over 99 million won ($9,000) a month, online news outlet Koreaboo said Saturday.

Meokbang stars attract not only curious viewers but calls from restaurants that are eager to promote themselves.

Netizens are largely known to flock to meokbang shows because they don’t want to feel lonely eating alone.

With an increasing number of one-person households in Korea, more Koreans dine alone at home.

For them, watching the shows psychologically comforts them with the impression that the VJs are “dining with me.”

“Koreans have long valued dining together with family members and friends,” pop culture critic Hwang Jin-i said. “Because more Koreans are living alone these days, they appear to find meokbang as an alternative way of experiencing community.”

SOURCE: The Korea Times