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Mukbangers are on the edge of their seats, as the new year starts off with controversy. (Illustration by Anastasia Willard, Moore College of Art and Design)

Keep on Stirring: The Mukbang Drama Pot Is Getting Hot

Mukbang YouTubers Stephanie Soo and Nikocado Avocado square off. Who knew there would be so much controversy surrounding eating videos posted on the internet?

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Mukbang YouTubers Stephanie Soo and Nikocado Avocado square off. Who knew there would be so much controversy surrounding eating videos posted on the internet?

Mukbang videos were originally popular in South Korea but have become a global trend on YouTube. Vloggers film themselves eating substantial amounts of requested food and interact with their fans. However, eating is not without drama. The new year has started with a bang as the beef between mukbang stars Nikocado Avocado and Stephanie Soo keeps on roasting.

The Ingredients Are Added Into the Making of “Mukbang Drama” Stew

The issue between the two stems back to nearly a year ago. Fellow mukbanger Veronica Wang collaborated with Stephanie Soo in a video. A short time later, YouTube channel Shookbang edited and uploaded their own parody version; Veronica was not happy with this and decided to copyright strike the video for going against Fair Use, which resulted in the channel’s disappearance.

At the same time, Nikocado Avocado publicly expressed his disdain toward Veronica for her actions. He uploaded videos exposing her. Despite the messiness, Nik also reached out to Stephanie with hopes of collabing. During their text exchanges, Stephanie confided in him and expressed how she and Veronica didn’t get along. Yet, because of how messy the situation was at the time, Stephanie was reluctant to collaborate with him. She turned down his offer.

And the Pot Is Stirred

After a year had passed, when it appeared that the drama had simmered down, he reached out again and she finally agreed to collab with him and Zach Choi. They were going to film three videos for their respective channels. In one video, Nik showed his animosity toward Veronica by urging Stephanie to spill the tea and expose her former collaborator. Stephanie did not want to get involved and felt uncomfortable. However, Nik was pushy and continued to interrogate her about Veronica. Because of her discomfort, she made the decision to cancel the collabs with Zach and Nik at the last minute. She texted them saying that she was “in and out of sleep” and could not film the videos with them. Unsurprisingly, Nik was unhappy with this. On Instagram, he retaliated by mocking the phrase with his mukbang friends, Thien Le and HyuneeEats. He also threatened to expose her in a YouTube video.

The Pot Is Boiling Hot

Stephanie responded to this by filming and uploading her own exposé titled “Why I Am Scared of Nikocado Avocado” on Dec. 21. She told her side of the story. She also made bold accusations against him. She said he was being manipulative and shady. His intentions were off as she felt like he befriended her to get information to use against Veronica. In addition to that, she claimed that she had security footage of him taking pictures of her home without her permission. Because of the invasion of privacy, she had a breakdown soon after. Fans seemingly sided with Stephanie, with many writing “cancelled” on his social media pages. They also made death threats against him and his friends for mistreating her.

Things Continue to Escalate … Someone, Go Turn Off the Stove

After fans were up in arms about her role in the drama, HyuneeEats immediately decided to issue a public apology. She claimed that she only came to the defense of Nik as a good friend. She also asked people to stop making death threats against her and her family. Fans were unwilling to buy her apology, citing it as phony and unemotional.

It would take days before Nik attempted to clear his name. He finally uploaded his response video on Dec. 30, titled “re: Stephanie Soo.” He clapped back claiming that he never liked her because she was a braggart and self-serving. He never intended to make her feel uncomfortable, but prior to filming, she willingly agreed to talk about Veronica. He released proof of screenshots of text messages of conversations between him and Stephanie. These texts stem back to months ago when she told him that she was going to create a documentary that spoke on the drama between her and Veronica. To make things worse, he involved third parties by also releasing receipts of him talking to Zach. In the receipts, it seemed like Zach did not like Stephanie and was allied with Nik. Pertaining to the claims made about her house, Nik retorted that he only took pictures of her home because she gave him permission.

Because Nik unexpectedly dragged Zach into the drama, Zach felt the need to address the situation. He made a series of posts on Instagram dishing his take. He claimed that he never gave permission for Nik to show their texts and was not supportive of Nik exposing Stephanie. From his perspective, he could see how she was uncomfortable because Nik kept on pressing her to share information. When he brought up his concerns with Nik, Nik became super aggressive and was hostile toward Zach. Zach feared that Nik would hold a grudge and proceed to leak all the text exchanges.

Just as people were starting to side with Nik, Stephanie Soo had the last laugh by creating merchandise with “In-N-Out of sleep” on it. All of the profits would be going to Stomp Out Bullying, a nonprofit that focuses on bullying and cyberbullying prevention. She took things further by posting on Instagram that she would take legal action against Nik. Finally, she ended things by uploading another video on Jan. 2, titled, “How Nikocado Manipulated All of Us,” claiming that Nik lied. In the video, she said that she would release the security footage with Nik’s permission to show that she was telling the truth. Fans were shocked by Stephanie’s action but many declared her the ultimate victor.

Things Finally Simmer

After the initial fallout, as of Jan. 10, it appears that Nik is still upset. He does not seem apologetic for what he did, even after public opinion turned on him. He lashed out at mukbang fans for making hate comments and blaming him for the drama. Stephanie has moved on and has not spoken about it since her last video.

Fans are trying to recover after being shook to their core. So much drama was introduced to rattle an eating community that’s usually quiet. As shown, things can get complicated as there are mukbangers with different personalities and big egos. Not everyone will get along. When the tea is finally spilt, it’s up to fans to dig for the truth. However, since only the two parties know what actually occurred, the details are oftentimes distorted and complicated. As Trisha Paytas pointed out, the situation is truly messed up. For all we know, they could be staging this for money and views, and the audience, in some sense, is indirectly manipulated by the parties involved. To wrap things up, the drama is fun to watch but can also be destructive and toxic. The mukbang community can learn from this situation and mukbangers can grow from the drama to create a healthier environment.

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