Trending #Solo: Eating, studying and partying alone
Mukbang or meokbang originated in Korea around the turn of the decade. It came from Korea’s culture of eating out alone, and the clips were initially webcast in real time. The word is a portmanteau of the words meukda (eating) and bang song (broadcast), roughly translating as broadcasting while eating, or eat-casting.
Today, mukbang has evolved into the art of eating large amounts of food or decadent foods, while filming with heightened, high-definition sound. Though the trend originated in Seoul, where harried office-goers often ate lunch alone and began to log on and broadcast for company, there are now popular Indian mukbangers as well. Manipuri YouTubers Kebola Wahengbam and Apei Opalić, for instance, have thousands of subscribers each.
The term is Japanese for Study Clips. Youngsters are seeing thousands of fellow students log in to watch them study, by themselves. Some say it helps to have an audience, as a form of company; some in the audience, who are also studying alone, say the same.
The videos typically show students quietly studying for hours, sometimes a fan rotating overhead, or quiet instrumental music playing. People watching but not studying say they find the videos restful. It’s a way, watchers and posters say, to feel like you’re socialising during alone time and a way to make friends without really making friends.
In Korea, the trend is called Gongbang, short for “gongbu bangsong” or “study broadcast”. Thousands of people subscribe to the ‘broadcasters’’ accounts and many leave encouraging comments. Some say the videos encourage them to study too, and help bring discipline to their studying patterns as well as easing anxiety.
Loosely translated, this is Japanese for ‘one person’. Online, people use this hashtag to mean ‘party of one’. Hundreds of thousands of post on Instagram show people enjoying solo activities like single-portion meals, or solo karaoke — a trend currently growing in Japan. The term, and the videos, are part of a shift towards celebrating singlehood and time spent alone, while also enriching it by doing things one truly enjoys.