77-year-old granny becomes YouTube star in South Korea
Despite not being the slickest of the ‘mukbang’ eating shows online, Kim Young-won’s videos get hundreds of thousands of hits
By Park Jin-hai
Kim Young-won, 77, is no different from any other grandmother, except that she is one of the oldest mukbang stars. With over 130,000 subscribers on the YouTube channel “Youngwonssi TV_ Funny Grandmother,” the kindly-looking grandmother eats various foods such as tiger shrimp and colourful sweets that she would never normally touch.
Amid a number of older Youtubers, with some gaining popularity with irascible antics, funny and clumsy makeup and style, Kim’s videos are rather “normal” and “wholesome,” as if watching someone’s grandmother. Yet her rather unprofessional-looking video clips are receiving positive responses from viewers.
In the video clips for sweets that school kids buy from mom-and-pop stores, she tries a sticky tape-like sweet and says “it tastes good,” but in the edited behind-the-scene clips, Kim tells her 21-year-old granddaughter “nobody would ever want to taste it.” The clip, with no binge-eating scenes or extraordinary dishes, gets viewers to smile as it received over 700,000 hits.
“I’m just an ordinary grandma who lives in a country town. I wake up early in the morning, work in my vegetable patch then go to the village community centre to meet with my neighbours,” said Kim during her interview with The Korea Times.
Always smiling, Kim looks happy when she is in front of food. When asked about the food she is eating, she answers in a quiet voice describing the taste and texture of the food. She recently even tried the hottest variety of mukbang without any adverse effects. She whispers “This is tiger shrimp bought from E-mart,” and munches them quietly.
“The best thing about (the YouTube video clips) is I can taste foods I’ve never tasted before. It’s fun,” said Kim, adding that she had a great fun eating the Japanese snack Takoyaki for the first time.
The YouTube channel is the idea of her photographer granddaughter Um Ha-neul, who she has been living in their Yongin, Gyeonggi Province home. “Grandma has taken care of me since I was young and I’m very close to her. One day I posted a series of photos of her eating to my social media accounts and people responded enthusiastically to them. Encouraged, my grandma and I began recording and sharing her mukbang nine months ago,” said Um.
“When I was in high school, grandma suffered from cancer. Now she is healthy but I came to think that making video clips with her might bring invaluable memories for us together.”
Due to the online broadcasts, Kim has become famous in her village. “Small children recognise me and say hello,” said Kim.
Her granddaughter Um says she plans to give more exotic foods to her grandma, who is always willing to try new foods. “I’m thinking of giving her durian fruit or half-hatched eggs. I wonder what she might say about them,” she said.