Why Men Pay $9,000 A Month To Watch This Woman Eat

Photo: Parinya Agsararattananont / 123RF
Why Men Pay $9,000 A Month To Watch This Woman Eat

Would you pay to watch someone eat?

In America, we 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 in 2014, made $9,000 a month from fans who like to watch her eat for hours each day.

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Every night, Seo-Yeon — also known as “The Diva” online — cooks elaborate meals and chows down in front of a camera, while chatting with her adoring fans.

Meanwhile, she’s getting tips in the form of online currency that can be exchanged for cash. Yes, Seo-yeon is essentially getting paid just to eat. 

But, these 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 “muk-Bang”, which means 'eating broadcasts' and it cures loneliness and hunger pangs.

During muk-bang, people eat enormous amounts of food and talk to the people who are watching them as they are live-streamed through an online channel. 

Seo-Yeon is considered to be the queen of this trend, with thousands of viewers who tune in to watch her eat at 8 p.m. every night. Her streams last for many hours, in which she consumes extrodinary amounts of food.

After she is done eating, Seo-Yeon spends another couple hours just talking to her fans through a chat room on her channel. 

This is Seo-Yeon's source of income, but she also spends thousands per month just to make it happen. According to Seo-Yeon, she has spent as much as $3,000 a month on the food she needs for her livestream. 

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Of her fans, she says, "My fans tell me that they really love watching me eat because I do so with so much gusto and make everything look so delicious. A lot of my viewers are on diets and they say they live vicariously through me, or they are hospital patients who only have access to hospital food so they also watch my broadcasts to see me eat."

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She also says that her biggest fans are mostly women, "One of the best comments I ever received from a viewer who said that she had gotten over her anorexia by watching me eat. That really meant a lot to me."

Seo-Yeon's channel is on a South Korean social networking site called Afreeca TV where the people who watch her show their appreciation by sending money. 

In South Korea, one-person households are extremely common and on the rise. This appears to be a major reason why what Seo-Yeon is doing has become so popular.

A public relations coordinator for Afreeca TV says, "We think it's because of three big reasons — the rise of one-person households in Korea, their ensuing loneliness and finally the huge trend of 'well-being culture' and excessive dieting in Korean society right now."

Seo-Yeon herself admitted that loneliness was her own reason for starting the channel. "So many of my friends were getting married and I was living alone and lonely and bored. When I first started my channel two years ago, I was showing a variety of content, from dance to outdoor activities, but it was my love of eating that really began drawing a response from fans,"

And then there was Seo-yeon. The Diva had made her rounds on the blogs before.

Kotaku reported that: 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.

However, with her success has also come some haters. "I get some really awful commenters who make me reexamine 'why am I doing this again?' but at the end of the day the positive feedback overwhelmingly outweighs the bad, so I am happy to continue."

And when asked if she ever wants some private time away from her viewers, she said, "This is a lot more fun."

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 Muk-Bangers are household names.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally posted on July 31, 2014 and was updated with the latest information.

This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.