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Further The K-platform Studies

Further The K-platform Studies

Let’s not forget other important players in the South Korean digital platform scene – like ‘Afreeca TV’ and ‘Baedal Minjok’.

1) The case of Afreeca TV /아프리카 TV/

Afreeca TV

Afreeca TV is the short name for “A(ny) Free (TV broad) ca(sting)”. Based in South Korea, it provides “real-time” (live) video sharing as its main service. A beta service was launched in 2005, with official trading commencing in March 2006. Afreeca TV offers an average of 100,000 streaming broadcasts daily, drawing a combined viewership of up to 360,000 and gaining audience numbers as much as three times the size of rival Korean cable channels by 2013.9 Th number of subscribers reached 6.86 million by September 2016, contributing to a steady increase in sales from 2011 onwards.

It is important to note that South Korean society provided a special environment for the growth of Afreeca TV. Korea is an “IT power” and as such has experienced rapid expansion of broadband services and smart devices, making it possible for the rapid proliferation of production and consumption of UCC in Korean society. Even before the emergence of live video services, South Korea had become an “online gaming empire”, with an enthusiastic sub-culture highly receptive to special broadcasting contents and game broadcasting forming around novel cable broadcasting companies.

Thus, it was no coincidence that, when it first started, the Afreeca TV platform was called “Afreeca Game TV”, clearly indicating the need for broadcasting reflecting the interactivity of online games among young Korean people. The inflow of users brought about both quantitative and qualitative expansions of content, as well as an increase in the number of viewers. Consequently, as Afreeca TV changed its name from “Game TV” into “Afreeca” (Any Free TV broadcasting), it matured as a mass media platform streaming live videos on diverse topics such as food and cooking. In 2009, for example, videos tagged “Mukbang” started to appear on Afreeca TV. Showing a broadcaster eating a lot of food, they went viral around the world in the years that followed.

2) Baedal minjok /배달의 민족/

Baedal minjok

Baedal minjok, abbreviated as “Baemin”, is the name of a South Korean food delivery app. Baedal was a term used widely in the Japanese colonial period to mark Korean national identity, while minjok can loosely be translated as ethnic group. However, since Baedal is a homonym, also meaning “delivery”, the start-up took it as a double entendre, using the slogan “What kinds of minjok are we?”, causing confusion for many.


● Lee, D., S. Lee and Hong, N. (2016). Smart media era Internet private broadcasting regulation system improvement [스마트 미디어 시대 인터넷 개인 방송 규제 체계 정비]. South Korea National Assembly Research Service, p.10.

● Jin, D. (2010). Korea’s Online Gaming Empire. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

● Afreeca TV (2014). ‘Introduction to Afreeca TV Service’, Afreeca TV [online]. Available at:

● Kim, H. (2015). A Study on Food Porn as a Sub-Culture – Centering on Internet “Meokbang” (eating scene) in Afreeca TV [하위문화로서의 푸드 포르노(Food Porn) 연구: 아프리카TV의 인터넷 먹방을 중심으로]. 인문학연구, 50, p. 437.

● Cho, K. (2017). ‘Baedal (倍達)’ [배달], Encyclopedia of Korean culture [Online]. Available at: Contents/Item/E0021854

● Kim, J. H., Yu, J., Sya, K., & Son, S. H. (2021). K-Culture Glossary: 100 Terms to Get You Started with Korean Popular Culture. Jikim Publishing Limited.

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The Rise of K-Culture: Discover the Korean Wave (Hallyu)

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