Group Digital Artefact Submission

For our final group submission for this project, our team consisting of Alex Mastronardi, Sunny Commandeur and myself, Susie Alderman, has built a website to show the findings of our auto-ethnographic research. Here you will find background information surrounding urban farming and its application to Asian markets, data from a live-tweeting session conducted during the screening of Plant This Movie (2014), a youtube video made to depict our attempt at building a vertical garden, numerous related blog posts, additional supporting information as well as references. Please find the website here

BCM320 DA – South Korean Food Fads

By Jennifer Ong, Corey Moore, Ibby Tubaro

Our group has chosen to examine ‘South Korean food fads’. Specifically ones that are uploaded online by independent internet creators or companies using celebrities for the purpose of gaining widespread attention. We all have varying knowledge and experience on these Korean food trends and challenges. The aim was to project our own unique experiences and opinions on these general food fads, and also encourage any onlookers to try for themselves or check out the South Korean food fads mentioned. This makes for an autoethnography with an interesting scope in which to investigate this topic.

Ellis et al. (2011) states a “thick description” of a culture is necessary in an autoethnography in order to produce an understanding of a culture for insiders and outsiders. The South Korean Wave (AKA Hallyu Wave) has brought exposure to the country, as a sort of soft power (Nye and Kim, 2013). South Korea is home to many successful trends and pop culture influence. These include fashion, music (K-Pop) and most significantly regarding this particular autoethnography, food. Among the food culture, the emergence of Meokbang shines. Meokbang (먹방) combines the words eat (다) and broadcast (송) that forms its meaning. Like the name suggests, people (most notably South Koreans) film themselves eating and interacting with viewers. Live stream eating paved the way for another Korean trend.

Although our group is looking at the overall South Korean food fad culture, we focused on recreating one particular challenge, called the “After Mum Is Asleep (AMIA)”. This involved us recording ourselves cooking and eating quietly. There is typically a dosimetre with a sound decimal system. When you go above a certain sound decimal, you get punished.

Jennifer’s Reflection:

Before I go into the filming experience and answering the overall objective, I would like to explain to you my upbringing on this Korean Fad. I first encountered Meokbang in 2016 when I was watching this Youtube Channel called FBE which people react to YouTube videos. This video on Meokbang really intrigued me and I started viewing all of these channels that were centralized on eating such as Keemi and Banzz.

For a while this consumed my whole life and also was the time period where I stopped eating in general since watching other people eat was enough for me. I watched less and less it over the years due to my busy schedule, but I still continue to follow the trend ‘connecting the personal to the cultural’ (Alsop, Christiane K.,2002). It should be notated though that I find ASMR Meokbang uncomfortable and cringy.

As an autoethnographer, we use our personal experience with recreating an ASMR Meokbang to produce a blog and video to represent our understanding on this popular Korean Fad (Ellis et al., 2011). Filming for this was actually very fun. It may have had to do with my role in choosing the punishment and the food, but it was great to see my groupmates eating all this unique Korean food for the first time. It also made me realize the work it takes before filming. We had to figure out the placement of me to be not in the recording view but still be able to see the Dosimetre. We had to prep this food before hand to make it easier for the other team mates and also background noises were also an issue while filming. It made me realize how praised the camera crew needs during productions even though they are rarely ever praised (Ellis et al., 2011).

One thing that I noticed during this study on Meokbang broadcasting is that the foods that Offical Korean variety shows do and Youtube channels do is use Korean foods. While this may not seem much, to cater to a worldwide audience, they aren’t changing to suit other cultures but sticking to their own. This can be seen as a marketing technique from the Government to promote Korean culture. An example of this is during the food selection for the Digital Artefact, I discovered so many Korean food that I haven’t heard of before including, Jokbal (pig’s trotters) and Hotteok (sweet syrupy pancakes).

Jokbal at Jang Choong Dong Wong Jokbal in Koreatown
Jokbal, from Eater Los Angeles
hotteok (호떡)
Hotteok, from Maangchi

Corey’s Reflection:

My experiences of Korean food culture before doing the subject Digital Asia was almost non-existant other than Korean BBQ which I first experienced in a restaurant in Japan and thought it was Japanese. I’d never heard of Mukbangs, sneaky eating challenges or After Mum is Asleep before. After experiencing these things via youtube and other streaming services that a classmate showed me, I became extremely interested. At first, I was confused and bewildered by these Korean food broadcasts not understanding their rules and if the people playing were trying to win or just losing on purpose to be entertaining to the viewer.

Looking back at my viewings of Korean food challenges reflexively (Alsop, 2002) before attempting to recreate a Korean food challenge to experience and understand why they exist. I had an epiphany (Ellis et al., 2011) that these food challenges and broadcasts while very unique and quite entertaining they are innovations on things that have existed for quite a while. people have been filming themselves eating things or trying to eat things in different ways and creating new trends, for example, Cinnamon challengeGallon challenge, and Consumption of Tide Pods the most dangerous of them all.

When it came time to attempt recreating the sneaky eating challenge, I wanted to also express not only the scene of the food challenge and being filmed but also with no prior knowledge of the foods we were eating so that my reaction captured on camera would be a genuine reaction to a first-time eater of Korean food culture to further gain an understanding of “Who am I in relation to the research?” (Pitard, 2017).

This blog also comes as a form of writing therapeutic for my author’s sense of self and experiences (Ellis et al., 2011). As the experience of the Korean BBQ plate at the centre of the table and everyone working together to cook and share a meal isn’t very similar to how I’ve experienced my meals.

When it came to being filmed the cameras became the furthest thing from my mind, as the art of eating silently and actual winning the challenge was my sole focus while eating. It was so much fun to experience and myself consciousness wasn’t an issue. The punishments while humiliating as they are intended to be, which I was also unaware of what they would be prior, but they didn’t affect my mood much which I personally think is why the contestants doing these challenges are also so willing to accept them also, they really just had to the experience.

While I expect I’ll never ever attempt filming one of these food challenges again. I can see myself thinking back on it and the Korean broadcasts I’ve watched whenever I attempt to eat something quietly or open something noisy and remember that the simple art of eating quietly can entertain a lot of people.

Ibby’s Reflection:

My personal context regarding South Korean culture is average. I became a fan of K-Pop in 2010, from there my interest in South Korea in general began to develop. I have familiarised myself with aspects of the culture through online browsing. I had no prior knowledge of this challenge, but I’m accustomed to ‘mukbangs’ and things like ‘the sneaky eating challenge” (the video involves a K-Pop group I’m a fan of, Red Velvet.) I always felt awkward watching mukbangs. I thought they were exaggerated to create a ‘fake’ relationship with the viewer.

Reflexivity is important within autoethnographic research (Pitard 2017), so I acknowledged that my own values can affect reliability. To understand and soften any prejudice or bias, I researched further on the Mukbang culture. Kim (2015) states the success of Mukbangs comes from the fact that people’s desire for food can be satisfied by viewing. Mukbang hosts interact with the people who are watching the broadcast (usually live, but sometimes through comments when video is posted).

I now understand better why Mukbang’s are successful. Mukbang’s require a relationship between the viewer and host, the “AMIA” challenge however doesn’t necessarily require that. Berger and Milkman (2012, pp.194) state in terms of online trends, “people share interesting or surprising content because it’s entertaining and reflects positively on them.” In these food fad videos, the people are professionals in terms of entertainment. When they successfully engage and invoke positive emotions, regardless of cultural or personal context, a successful form of entertainment is produced and has the potential to garner widespread attention. In my case, I’m not Korean, but I was still entertained by watching different “AMIA” videos. Watching them hopelessly try to keep quiet and fail, hence being hit with a toy hammer- or simply giving up and making loud noises because they just want to eat the food? Quality content.

Ethnographers become ‘participant observers’ (Ellis et al., 2011), so our methodology involved viewing examples of these Korean food fad videos and also attempting to recreate the “AMIA” challenge. The awkward silence and then a sudden crunch from a chip or sizzle from the hotplate created an almost cathartic experience where I was compelled to laugh. I personally found doing the challenge and watching others do it entertaining, but in different ways.

My first epiphany (Ellis et al., 2011) was realising through actually attempting the challenge, it’s difficult to keep the sound decimal low enough to not be punished for it. When I first watched “AMIA” videos, I thought the reactions were exaggerated by the contestants, and that it couldn’t be that difficult to eat those foods quietly. Although I now believe such reactions aren’t completely exaggerated, I still see these videos as a sort of ‘performance’.

Another epiphany was even though I enjoyed doing this with my group mates because we’re friends and they understand the struggles of this challenge, I realised that wouldn’t be enough to completely engage any random viewer. I knew I was filmed, but I was more focused on doing everything quietly, rather than entertaining the audience. I’m arguably not an entertainer, just an awkward University student. So not everyone would necessarily find it as funny as we did together.

Overall, even though it was somewhat frustrating to do the challenge in terms of not being punished, it was still very fun to do. I also now have a new outlook on South Korean food fads. For mukbangs, the experience of viewing someone else eat can be satisfying. For other food fads, the exhilarating situations where when presented with a challenge involving food, the performer can deliver an entertaining experience for the viewer that transcends cultural and personal context.


Evidently as shown in each of our reflections, we were impacted differently from this overall experience. But we all definitely agree that we gained a better understanding of South Korean food culture than before we did our autoethnographic research, and in extension have new perspectives regarding these South Korean food fads.


Group DA: Japanese Restaurant Experience


While Japanese food has been influenced by other nations, it has adopted and refined these food customs to create its own unique dishes The first foreign influence on Japan was China around 300 BC. This is when the Japanese learned to cultivate rice and used soy sauce and tofu in their meals. Additionally, the Buddhist religion also influenced the Japanese cuisine. In 700 AD, there was a ban on meat because of the heavy Buddhist influence and as a result of this traditional sushi came about. After about 1000 years after the ban was enforced, beef was reintroduced to Japan.

A big difference that separates Japanese cuisine from other Asian cuisines is that they aim to preserve the original appearance and taste of ingredients where other cultures will change the taste and make it so it’s difficult to recognise the ingredients. 

We have all grown up eating the foods of our cultures, making it a large part of who we are. Food is associated with certain memories and time frames in our lives, it brings groups together and can hold very special personal values for each individual. On a larger scale, food can be a traditional representation and an expression of cultural identity. In this day and age, it has become so much more easier to access cuisines of differing cultures. With options of cuisines particularly in Australia growing rapidly, as our multicultural population increases. Within this increase in variety, and the effects of globalisation, there have been many alterations to particular cultural dishes to better suit other cultures.

Autoethnography explores an event or memory that defines your place in a particular culture. It may reflect on childhood experiences—your family, your likes and dislikes, particular events that shape who you are. In our digital artefact, we decided to focus on our background with food, as we all have vastly different experiences. It was an experience for us all, especially Nadia and Lizzie, and even Michelle to some extent, who have had very little interaction with Japanese cuisine in the past.

We decided to present our digital artefact as a reaction type video. Using YouTube channels such as FBE and React, but setting it in the restaurant. This is to allow the video to be more entertaining, educational and relatable for the general audience, and can also be used as a review of the restaurant itself.

We began the DA by discussing our backgrounds and interactions with Japanese food, this was to show how the journey began. Our field site was a restaurant called Goros in Surry Hills. Goros is a Japanese inspired bar with a wide range of snacks and sake.

Part of this DA was to have an authentic experience, documenting our first time trying these foods, with the exception of Eric who has previously been to Japan and experienced a lot of their cuisine before.

Reflexivity is the ability to examine our own feelings and their influence on how we react in certain situations. Consciously embedding ourselves into the research we are doing. This is why we found it so important in the beginning of our video to discuss our cultural background in terms of the cuisines we are used to consuming and our feelings towards trying something that is completely different to what we would normally eat.

During the video we can be seen having quite different reactions to some of the dishes. Eric being much more open to eating everything and loved all of the food, even the moving fish flakes which challenged Michelle, Naomi, Nadia and Lizzie. This is because Eric’s background of trying foreign foods is more open and normalised.

Reflecting on the data gathered, we did considerably well. We were all open to trying new and different foods that were on offer at the restaurant and overall really enjoyed the experience. We’d all definitely recommend going out and having the experience we did, no matter what your background in trying new food is.

Epiphanies could be otherwise described as lightbulb moments, turning points in our experience. These are accentuated by a contrast of culture which is only possible through being deeply aware of one’s own culture and therefore being able to recognise alternate cultural features distinctly. Our acquired knowledge through epiphanies often leads to a changed outlook or behaviour. As Wall (2008) emphasises, the researcher and audience must recognise that “every view is a way of seeing, not the way.” As we experienced our exposure to Japanese cuisine together, the juxtaposition of our different, subjective, ways of experiencing is evident through our varying epiphanies. 

To no surprise, those who experienced the most prominent epiphanies in our group were those who had minimal previous exposure to Japanese food and culture. Aside from previous exposure, Eric also has Philipino heritage and this food was not as foreign to him; therefore he did not experience food neophilia as much as the rest of us. Al-Qasimi (2009) says, Western diets lean on the more “conservative” side. Thus, those with Western ethnicity (lizzie, nadia, michelle and half of me), were more challenged and culturally shocked during the meal. For the majority of our group, our epiphanies came as a realisation that food which we were reluctant to try, and often disgusted by, was actually tasty and enjoyable. 

Lizzie, who is often opposed to pork, tried the pork gyoza and was shocked to find she liked it. This has opened her mind to trying other dishes in the future and possibly incorporating pork into her diet more frequently. 

Michelle was resistant to the takoyaki balls as they had moving fish flakes, however later realised they tasted, “so good”. Now, she will be less likely to judge a food by how it appears, and instead be open to dissimilar foods. 

Nadia was surprised that she liked the ox tongue, a “weird food” she otherwise wouldn’t have tried. This has lead to her being more inclined to try exotic and different food in the future. 

For Naomi, she generally steers clear of anything spicy, but realised that the kamikaze chilli addition to the gyoza was different and kind of nice. Now, she’ll more openly try dishes containing chilli, opening her diet up to a range of new foods.

Eric’s epiphany was quite different and involved other group members experience with the food, not his own. Eric brought into the research predispositions of how he believed the other participants would react, enjoying or disliking the food. So while he sat and enjoyed a meal which he was already accustomed to due to his Philipino ethnicity and recent travels, his epiphany was the realisation that this type of food could be enjoyed by those who may not have otherwise been exposed to it and those who come from different cultural frameworks. 

Méndez (2014), states, “what matters is the way in which the story enables the reader to enter the subjective world of the teller – to see the world from her or his point of view.” Through portraying our cultural background and previous exposure to Japanese cuisine, we hope that we have enabled our audience to view our experiences through our own personal lens. We hope this has also given background to where our epiphanies may have stemmed from and why we felt a certain way.


Eric, Nadia, Naomi, Lizzie and Michelle 🍣


Al-Qasimi, N. (2009). Eating with an open mind. [online] The National. Available at: [Accessed 12 Oct. 2019].

Cwiertka, K (2006), Modern Japanese cuisine: Food, power and national identity, Reaktion Books, London.

Delamont, S. (2009). The only honest thing: autoethnography, reflexivity and small crises in fieldwork. Ethnography and Education, 4(1), pp.51-63.

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. (2012). Food in Japan – Japanese Food, Japanese Cuisine – traditional, popular, dishes, diet, history, common, meals, rice, famous. 14 Oct 2019.

Goldstein-Gidoni, O 2001, The making and marking of the ‘Japanese’and the ‘Western’in Japanese contemporary material culture, Journal of Material Culture, 6(1), pp.67-90.

Holman, S., Adams, T. and Ellis, C. (2013). Handbook of autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Left coast Press, pp.209-228. (2017). Gyoza | Japan Experience. 14 Oct 2019.

McIlveen, P. (2008). Autoethnography as a Method for Reflexive Research and Practice in Vocational Psychology. Australian Journal of Career Development, 17(2), pp.13-20.

Méndez, M. (2014). Autoethnography as a research method: Advantages, limitations and criticisms. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 15(2), p.279. (2015). 【Food】“Tako” – Japanese yummy foods using octopus. 13 Oct 2019.【food】tako-japanese-yummy-foods-using-octopus/4846

Wall, S. (2008). Easier Said than Done: Writing an Autoethnography. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 7(1), pp.38-53. (2017). Gyutan: The Tasty Japanese Beef Tongue | YABAI – The Modern, Vibrant Face of Japan. YABAI. 14 Oct 2019.

Buddhism: Spirituality, Mudras, and Fo Guang Shan

Group Digital Artefact, presented using mixed media. By Josh, Allanah and Jasmyn.


Because autoethnography is a deeply personal reflection, we felt that it was best to explain our research as a narrative through layered accounts, so here we go…

Recently, Josh, Allanah and I conducted an autoethnographic study about Buddhism. Honestly, we chose to do so, because there was a Buddhist temple nearby to our place of study, and because all of us had little to no prior experience with Buddhism. Thus, this autoethnographic journey would be one of discovery, and unexpected epiphanies.

So, we knew we wanted to study Buddhism, but the question was: how?

First, we had to identify our cultural frames and how this may affect the research process.

As a group, we brought with us vastly different individual cultural frames (below). But one this was for sure: it was important to acknowledge that our exposure to the Buddhist faith was approached from a research perspective, so admittedly the…

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Mukbang, Autoethnography analyse

Ellis et al. (2011) suggested that Autoethnography is an approach that “a researcher uses tenets of autobiography and ethnography to do and write.” In order to understand Mukbang as a social phenomenon, digital product, and online entertainment, I used ethnographic research method. I reflexively analyzed my personal lived experience and opinion about Mukbang in my last blog. I became a participatory observer when I did some research on how Korean, Chinese, and Westerners about it.

About subjectivity

According to Ellis et al. (2011), Autoethnography “acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist. “. The relationship between the researcher and their autobiographic feedbacks about a specific topic is the crucial part of Autoethnography study. Hitchcock & Hughes (1995) and Plummer (2001) all agreed that one advantage of the subjectivity is that readers can access to the real…

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My opinion on Mukbang, As an Asian

I am someone who genuinely loves all food-relevant topics.

So far, I managed to build all my all BCM digital artifacts about food at some level. I mean, I even went to discover the future of food, and the food representation in games (applause to myself).

My passion for food and cooking is partly because, I, as an Asian, a Chinese, grew up surround by food culture. Just like Australian ask ‘how are you’ when you meet each other, the British say ‘what miserable weather,’ Chinese often ask ‘have you eat’ as a simple greeting language.

For me, watching Mukbang is like day-to-day relaxing entertainment.

I started to consider Mukbang as a unique social and cultural concept since BCM112. I wrote a short blog about Mukbang is a message for that. You are welcome to check that out here.

So what is Mukbang?

According to a South Korean…

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Unpacking: Autoethnography & MAMA


In my previous blog post, which you can read here, I researched the MAMA Music Awards 2018 event in Hong Kong through the autoethnographic methodology. I became a participant observer by watching the content directly and recording my ‘epiphanies’. I also engaged with a field of data on Twitter, which gave me greater insight into the way my cultural context influenced my epiphanies, and greater understanding of the cultural influence of MAMA Music Awards in Asia and globally.

In analysing my own research, I think it would have given more depth to my analysis if I had reflexively analysed the process behind my research in regards to identity politics – ultimately giving the reader greater insight into why I think why I do.

According to Ellis et al. (2011), the basis of autoethnography is grounded in ways to produce meaningful, accessible, and evocative research grounded in personal experience that would…

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