South Korean woman makes a fortune by livestreaming herself eating

Park Seo-Yeon has found a way to monetise eating pizza and chicken wings on the internet

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 January, 2014, 7:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 31 January, 2014, 11:55am

In South Korea, a woman is making a living by letting you watch her eat.

Thirty-three-year-old Park Seo-Yeon, who goes by the name “The Diva” online, makes more than HK$71,000 a month eating food from her flat in Seoul.

Quirky footage of her consuming copious amounts of pizza, buckets of chicken wings and massive piles of beef are livestreamed to thousands of Korean fans, who can instantaneously write comments on Park’s eating performance via an online chat room that accompanies the star’s livestreaming channel.

“My fans tell me that they really love watching me eat because I do so with…gusto and make everything look so delicious,” Park said in an interview with CNN. “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.”

Video: Park Seo-Yeon in action

Park’s broadcasts are part of a new fad in South Korea that some have dubbed “food porn.” Although The Diva is not the only eater with an online fanbase, she is by far one of the most famous and recognizable faces on Korea’s Afreeca TV, a social networking website that hosts video channels and allows creators to monetise their content. 

Formally, livestreaming channels such as Park’s are known as “muk-bang,” which translates into English as “eating rooms.”

Analysts have attributed the popularity of muk-bang to a general Korean interest in livestreaming as well as a culture that regards eating as an important social activity.

“For Koreans, eating is an extremely…communal activity, which is why even the Korean word ‘family’ means ‘those who eat together,’” said Professor Sung-hee Park of Ewha University’s Division of Media Studies.

According to Park, who recently quit her day job in real estate to update her livestreaming channel full time, a single muk-bang performance can earn as much as 1.1 million won (HK$8,000).

In a Reuters interview, the internet star added that her peformances have helped her battle the loneliness of living alone. 

“Loneliness is [a] crucial factor,” Park said. “The show is addictive as you can communicate with thousands of people at home. It feels great when [they] say ‘I recovered from anorexia thanks to you’ or ‘Thank you for a fun and delicious time.’”