Top mukbang influencers are earning 6 figures per year

Mukbang is a genre of broadcast that means ‘eating show’ in Korean. Content creators publish or stream themselves eating large amounts of food on Twitch, YouTube and AfreecaTV.

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Abi Ortega
Influence
Abi Ortega(@andr0id55)
January 22, 2021 1:46 pm

I think Mukbang gets a lot of attention because you get to have a vicarious experience. Experiencing something through others is very powerful. Many articles point to Mukbang’s association with eating, but I think there is more to it. I think there are some subtle associations with wealth and luxury.

Sometimes these influencers eat the whole menus of Burger King and McDonald’s 🍔🍟 These aren’t exactly luxurious establishments but the main point is the amount of food they eat.

Growing up you hear stories about Kings and Queens holding sumptuous banquets and feasts. Massive tables filled with dishes cooked to perfection, drizzling with tempting juices and an unforgettable odour. Volume of food has been associated with plenty. Maybe seeing so much food and someone eat their way through it brings us closer to that abundance.

It’s similar to watching MTV Cribs, a show that toured through the mansions of rich and famous celebrities. I have never really aspired to own a house like that (maintenance would be a killer!), but I loved watching it. And I absolutely LOVE watching first class and business class flight experiences of airlines. Again, taking a first class flight isn’t a dream of mine, but I watch these videos happily 🤗

Mukbang fulfils a part of us that appreciates luxury and abundance. Maybe we don’t want to be the ones stuffing ourselves with food, but if the viewing numbers and influencer earnings mean anything, we want to watch the experience.

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Anna Alonso
Potential
Anna Alonso(@sweetpoppin99)
January 23, 2021 11:46 am

The top Mukbang influencers will be getting money from various sources. Eat With Kim or Kim Thai has been sponsored by DoorDash and she has her own online store that sells clothing such as shirts and hoodies. Her online store gets sales from the large following she’s gained from her Mukbang activities. There are also likely to be private sponsors who request influencers to eat certain meals. These are probably going to be kept secret 🤐

People will also contribute to a Mukbang influencer’s income through donations on YouTube Live, Twitch and Patreon. But the biggest earnings come from ad revenue.

Eat with Boki has 4.99 million subscribers on YouTube. According to Social Blade her estimated earnings go up to $140,000 per month! If that sounds crazy, DONA 도나 is a mukbang YouTuber who hides her subscriber count, but her recent video views give a good indication. A video she published a day ago already has 2.7 million views. A video she published a week ago has 15 million views. Her total views for the last month come to 1.16 billion 🤯🤯 And her estimated earnings go up to $4.1 million per month!!

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Alex Bakalov
Potential
Alex Bakalov(@wireplug)
January 24, 2021 7:14 pm

I have to say there is something hypnotic about watching someone thin and small eat so much food. How do they do it? I’ve watched some videos of a guy called Beard Meats Food, a competitive eater in the UK. The food he manages to eat is quite literally, astonishing. And he’s not a large guy by any means. In one of his videos I remember him saying that you only see what happens on camera. He hinted at some serious restriction before eating day, and also some side-effects that last for several days after the feast.

The never-ending desire for content from influencers means mukbang stars are locked in a cycle of restriction and huge feasting. Some have admitted having painful gastrointestinal problems after recording a video. I’m not surprised given how much they eat. Others say they’re worried about long-term health problems and get their bloodwork checked regularly. Critics point out to what impact on health watching mukbang will have on viewers. Will they replicate it? Will this enormous consumption be normalized? As Beard Eats Food says, you only see what’s on the camera. If a viewer sees an influencer looking fine in every video week after week, it gives off the message that there is no problem with the lifestyle.

Add to this the competitive nature of being an influencer. In order to get noticed, there is pressure to do more extreme things. Competition for views and likes is so intense. So if you record stunts on your social media, you have to do stunts that are more dangerous and jaw-dropping to get more exposure. Some influencers have even died in their attempts to record a crazy stunt just to get noticed in the hugely saturated social media space. And of course this doesn’t just apply to stunts. If you’re a fitness influencer, then you’re expected to lift more and more weight. If your thing is mukbang, then how do you stand out? You have to be the one eating the unthinkable. This is why calorie challenges have grown to gigantic proportions – from 5,000 calories challenges to 10,000 to 20,000 to even 50,000 calorie challenges. That’s the equivalent of over 17 days worth of food for an individual (depending on which country you’re in) in just one challenge!

This is why more mukbang influencers are opening up about the pressures they face. The amount of food they’re expected to eat is unsustainable, but there’s also pressure as influencers to remain thin. Inevitably the pristine facade will start to crack and scandals will blow up. Eat With Boki, a South Korean mukbang ASMR influencer, has been accused of editing her videos. Viewers believe she has been chewing her food and then deleting parts where she spits the food out. This isn’t the first mukbang scandal and it won’t be the last.

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Melissa Chan
Potential
Melissa Chan(@melissa-chan)
January 24, 2021 11:33 pm

A mukbang influencer could be earning 6 figures this year and nothing the next year. This is life as an internet celebrity, a relatively new category of celebrity that has blown up in the past decade. Mukbang influencers are just like influencers of other niches – they aren’t immune to mistakes or scandals that often turn the public against you.

Hamzy is a mukbang vlogger from South Korea with 5.42 million subscribers. In a recent video “Real Mukbang:) Super Spicy Octopus Bibimbap ★ ft. White Kimchi, Fried Eggs”, a viewer commented about a food that is Korean but claimed by China as their own. Hamzy liked that comment and that’s where the chaos started.

Her Chinese fans were unhappy about the ‘like’ and they let her know this in the comment section of the video. Hamzy later issued an apology but the Chinese agency that promotes her in mainland China canceled her contract. It brings to light the scrutiny influencers are under. Who would have thought that a simple like of a comment could cause so much controversy?

Other controversies have surrounded mukbang vloggers who haven’t been open about their sponsorships. Viewers want to know the circumstances around the promotion of these products. Are they products the vlogger has genuinely liked and bought, and is now sharing with her audience? Or has some company just paid the vlogger to promote the products? Several vloggers have come out with apologies, promising to inform viewers of commercial sponsorships in the future.

Last edited 11 months ago by Melissa Chan
Rayan Tanwar
Potential
Rayan Tanwar(@rainreign89)
January 24, 2021 4:25 pm

Loneliness is a key reason why mukbang has been so popular. Eating has traditionally been a social activity. Have breakfast in the morning with your family, lunch with your colleagues or classmates, and dinner with friends or family. If someone asks you what you did last night and you say you went to a restaurant, chances are you mention who you went with. Either a friend, family member, or partner. Although things are changing – like almost everything nowadays! – we still associate eating food as something to be done with others.

But in the hyperconnected world we live in, loneliness is a problem many of us face. Mukbang videos help viewers feel less lonely. Viewers get to eat together in a social setting. The mukbang-er (or video host) engages in conversation, much like you would do if you were with someone in a cafe or restaurant. The experience can feel very close to reality, especially with live streaming options that let the host reply to comments from viewers. With restrictions still enforced because of the coronavirus, loneliness is affecting millions of people. Mukbang gives comfort by putting you into a social setting and reducing feelings of loneliness.

Murray Hinton
Influence
Murray Hinton(@str33mer)
January 21, 2021 6:43 pm

When I first heard about mukbang and the number of viewers the genre was pulling, I shook my head. “The internet does it again. If I thought things couldn’t get stranger, the internet always proves me wrong.” Admittedly this was a bit judgemental. You can’t attribute the success of mukbang to a community of weird people who have a fetish for watching people eat. There are deeper factors at play.

In fact while I was condescendingly amused at the hype mukbang was generating, I actually ended up watching videos of people eating food. I didn’t realise until later that I was one of those weirdos I’d poke fun at.

I’ve been on a weight loss journey in the past. Anyone who has been on a low calorie diet that is too restrictive will know how it feels to have cravings and hunger pangs. At times when I’m struggling to follow my diet, I get comfort from watching other people eat. Especially those that are dieting themselves. It gives me some comfort to know that I’m not the only one who struggles on a calorie deficit 😂😂

It helps me get through and stick to the diet. There’s a part of it that resonates with me. If this guy or girl can eat in front of thousands of people and interact with them, explaining how they’re feeling on their diet, then I can stick to my diet too! 💪