The Paradigm Shift in Malaysian Commensality

Symbolic Interactionism in Mukbang videos


  • Belinda Fong Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) & School of Hospitality & Service Management, Sunway University
  • Chang Peng Kee Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) & School of Media and Communication, Taylor’s University


commensality, mukbang, symbolic interactionism, Malaysian cultures, digital food culture


Commensality is integral to communal eating, particularly in Malaysian culture where food preparation, distribution, and consumption hold significant importance. However, cultural globalization and digital integration have transformed commensality into a virtual experience. Factors like single-person households and COVID-19 lockdowns have made solo dining increasingly common, often supplemented by social media platforms to create a sense of connection during meals. The popularity of Mukbang videos, showcasing Korean street and comfort foods, has surged, further blurring the lines between virtual and physical dining experiences. Food serves as a vital communication medium in Malaysian culture, facilitating connections through diverse culinary experiences. Through George H. Mead's Symbolic Interactionism Theory, interactions via food and its cultural context lead to the emergence of new food meanings and shared understandings, initially rooted in family dynamics. Viewers engage in parasocial interactions with Mukbang artists and fellow audience members, forming a virtual marketplace of social interactions that transcends physical distances. Mukbang videos offer escapism and community, particularly for those living in isolation, evolving from a necessity into a lifestyle choice. This study delves into this paradigm shift within the Malaysian community, focusing on the addictive appeal of Mukbang videos among Malaysian youth and the unique symbolic associations forged with the Mukbang community, and their impact on Malaysian culture.




How to Cite

Fong, B., & Chang, P. K. (2024). The Paradigm Shift in Malaysian Commensality: Symbolic Interactionism in Mukbang videos. Journal of Ethnic and Diversity Studies (JOEDS), 2(1). Retrieved from