Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 February 2019
Mukbang is a Korean livestream where a host eats while interacting with viewers. The eater ‘speaks’ to the viewers while eating and the viewers ‘type’ to each other and to the eater through a live chat room. Using interactional sociolinguistics along with insights from conversation analysis (CA) studies, the present study examines how sociable eating is jointly and multimodally achieved in mukbang. Analyzing sixty-seven mukbang clips, I find that mukbang participants coordinate their actions through speech, written text, and embodied acts, and that this coordination creates involvement and, by extension, establishes both community and social agency. Specifically, recruitments are the basic joint action of eating, as participants, who are taking turns, assume footings of the recruit and the recruiter. The host embodies viewers’ text recruitments through embodied animating and puppeteering. As in street performance, the viewers often offer voluntary donations, and the host shows entertaining gratitude in response. (Mukbang, footing, recruitments, agency, involvement, constructed action, multimodal interaction, computer-mediated discourse)*
This article began as a paper written for seminars taught by Mark Sicoli. I am grateful to him for the feedback he provided at that stage. I am also grateful to Cynthia Gordon and Deborah Tannen for detailed feedback on several revised versions, and to Jen McFadden for editing assistance. I would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor, Jenny Cheshire, for their helpful suggestions. All remaining errors are my own.