There’s a new fad on the Korean internet, and indeed, with this development, the Internet has perhaps reached its purest, truest use: watching stray cats eat.
That’s according to the Associated Press. Livestreams offering the opportunity to watch strangers eat are already very popular in South Korea. And this is the internet we’re talking about, so of course the logical extension of the phenomenon is watching strange cats eat:
“Cats Meok Bang,” a mash-up of the Korean words for broadcasting and eating, began by accident. While visiting his mother-in-law in a mountainous village in southwestern Korea, Koo Eun-je saw a cat outside, wondered how it survived and put out leftover fish for it. The next day, the cat was back so Koo kept feeding him, and the others who followed. Finally, he set up a surveillance camera and livestreamed the scene online.
Koo has been at it four months, and he now averages 110,000 viewers per month, some of who send cat food and/or money. He’s expanded from a simple dish into an elaborate set, “a restaurant for cats,” with fresh fish and ever-changing decor. He said 17 cats now stop by for meals.
Of course, there’s no promise that one of those 17 cats will be eating when you tune in. This is an exercise in sweet, patient boredom, much like Neko Atsume:
“They are like unexpected joy suddenly visiting you,” said Park Tae-kyung, a 33-year-old computer graphic designer in Seoul. For the past two months, Park said she played the cat TV all day at work on a computer screen and watched the show before going to bed. When she spotted a cat at work, her colleagues rushed to the screen to stare at it.
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Stray cats have traditionally been considered a menace in South Korea, the AP explains, but Koo’s show is starting to change minds. “I was never fond of cats before,” said one fan, 49-year-old doctor. “Now when I take a walk after lunch, I go to places where I might run into street cats.” He also plays Neko Atsume.