‘Mukbang’– the highly popular eating show or broadcast – has swept out nation and even started to become popular in other countries like the U.S. However, the Korean government is beginning to contemplate if a lot of Mukbang programs could instigate the public into excessive eating, thus causing a continued public health concern – as the obesity rate in Korea continues its rise. In this respect, the government plans to provide food protection guidelines by censoring Mukbang programs that they consider too stimulating. However, there have been mixed reactions on whether the Mukbang regulation is excessive or just.
Most people don’t agree with the governmental policy of restriction against Mukbang. They argue that regulating Mukbang is highly unacceptable within our democratic country. According to them, whether we eat a lot of food or not, it is our personal choice and freedom. Besides, Mukbang is not scientifically proven to be the cause of obesity. Overall, they complain that the government is too meddlesome about the lives of individuals.
If so, what are the opinions of those in favor of the regulation? Undeniably, TV or Internet broadcasting has a great influence over the audience. After watching Mukbang, minors especially may be easily influenced and mimic the excessive eating. For this reason, we have to regulate it in a similar way as the government regulates smoking scenes on TV in order to reduce the smoking rate. People supporting the regulation maintain that it would help enhance the public health.
Here are some responses from our own Yeungnam University students regarding the regulation of Mukbang. One said, “I often watch Mukbang. Whenever I see it at night, I get really hungry! It seems true that Mukbang causes obesity although there’s no clear scientific proof.” She also added, “However, I think other measures will be more effective in reducing obesity rates than the regulation of Mukbang.”
On the other hand, another student had a completely opposite opinion. “I have succeeded in dieting as I get vicarious satisfaction while watching the Mukbang. Minors are influenced by the media, but I’m not sure if the regulation will reduce the obesity rate significantly. I guess, some other means might be much more effective.”
Although the details of students’ responses have not been released yet, online disputes have become more and more heated regarding the issues of the possible correlation between Mukbang and excessive eating, the justifiableness and effectiveness of the government’s coercive regulations, and so on. Students mainly focus their attention on how these guidelines will influence Mukbang. I am really curious whether you are for or against the regulation of Mukbang.