Cultural Reflection

My last blog post explored memories of my youth and my encounters with Asian food. The recount of my past experiences is subject to my personal, cultural framework which have ultimately shaped my engagements and emotions towards them.

Cultural framework is embedded within and often subconsciously used throughout day to day life. It shapes values and beliefs while explaining tradition within society. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions can explain these differences among groups.

Given my initial neutral experience with the local Chinese restaurant, I was unaware of how much more there was culturally behind the food. Once I experienced the more flamboyant environment of Melbourne China town it became more of a luxury to me as it was at a far distance to where I resided. The quick and inconsistent exposure left me curious and intrigued, feelings that have never left.

With steak and veggies being the staple throughout my life, consuming something so different from the ‘norm’ of not only me but my acquaintances leads to so many questions. Growing up with a farming family I understood how I got my food and why we ate it – because we grew it, that was our farming culture, but I always wondered what their process of creation and consumption was. This was me comparing and contrasting my personal experience against existing research which Ellis (2011) argues is a key to understanding between insiders and outsiders.

Can culture dictate the way we see? Definitely.

Clusters of knowledge from both personal experience and academic research form to facilitate pathways in autoethnography (Hannah & Simeone 2018). This brings me to my current situation of combining my initial encounters and curiosity of Asian and its surroundings. Both will contribute to creating my project and enhancing my views while educating others.

In regards to my YouTube investigation, the platform itself has become a regular part of my life. Growing up with technology it adds to the way I engage in the digital side of my study, something that I am familiar and comfortable with.

Conveying understanding goes through stages and those stages depend on an individual’s cultural framework.
1. Encounter
2. Curiosity
3. Personal relation
4. Research


  • Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research12(1), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101108.
  • Hannah, M.A & Simeone. M 2018, ‘Exploring an Ethnography-based Knowledge Network Model for Professional Communication Analysis of Knowledge Integration’, Transactions on Professional Communication, vol. 61, no. 4, pp. 372-388

More About Mukbangs

Although mukbangs originate in South Korean digital communities, they have recently expanded into the global mediascape, as discussed in my previous post (my last post will be frequently referenced throughout this post, so it might be a good idea to check that out first). Despite having a limited knowledge about ‘Digital Asia’ prior to this subject, I had come across the phenomenon of mukbangs on YouTube. Albeit, not the South Korean version, but the Westernised version. (more…)

YouTube Eats

In terms of Asian travel, the closest I have gotten to it is driving to pick up some honey chicken from my local Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, I am yet to fully experience travelling abroad to an Asian country and soak up all it has to offer within its culture.

Growing up in a small town, my exposure to Asian culture was minimal. I remember occasionally seeing some anime on TV, but I never actually watched it, I was more of a Saddle Club kind of girl. My family holiday in Melbourne as a child introduced me to Chinatown. The buildings were beautiful and the food we ate for lunch was even better. When I was 11 years old, two Chinese sisters started at my school. Being a town without much diversity, all the students were so intrigued by them and asked all sorts of questions about their previous home, we even wanted to organise an excursion to their village. Soon enough they pretty much became professional Mandarin teachers with everyone wanting to be their best friends. For most of us, it was our first real exposure to a culture outside our own, it was so innocent.

As I grew older and moved out into the world, I realised there was one main aspect of Asian culture I really enjoyed and couldn’t escape – the food. From sushi to tom yum we are spoilt for choice and it’s all delicious.

As much as I love what is on offer here in Australia, I am still intrigued by what else is out there. Video platform YouTube is where I do most of my research on these unknown foods. Japan is probably the most commonly featured country in my viewings I mean who wouldn’t want to try all those flavours of KitKat?!

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Or try canned bread from a vending machine? Maybe that isn’t for everyone…

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It is so interesting to see all the different foods and flavours I am yet to try. You can see the culture embedded within the products, they reflect the needs and wants of the nation in the form of flavour.

Over the past two years, a trend that started in South Korea has really taken over YouTube with ‘mukbang’s’ becoming common content on many popular vlogger’s channels.

The word ‘mukbang‘ is a combination of ‘meokneun’ which means eating and ‘bangsong‘ which means broadcast.

The individual’s film themselves eating while answering questions from their viewers or subscribers.

I think the exploration of food and its consumption via YouTube could be a good topic to study for my autoethnography project. Food is something everyone enjoys and can relate to, I mean we literally need it to stay alive.

Mukbangs: The West has hijacked South Korea’s hunger for watching strangers eat online

As I have stated in previous blog posts, my knowledge of ‘Digital Asia’ was limited to non-existent prior to this subject. Though, one topic I am vaguely familiar with is the online video trend of ‘mukbangs’, due to seeing similar content on YouTube by Australian creators. (more…)

AKIRA: My First Anime Experience

So far, BCM320 has proved to be a subject full of ‘first times’ for me. In week 1, our screening of The Host was my first experience with Korean film, and this week was my first time watching Japanese anime. Our week 3 screening was Katsuhiro Ôtomo’s Akira (1988). While neither of the screenings thus far would be my typical genre of choice, I am enjoying the gentle exposure to the diversity of Asian media cultures. (more…)



Absence in week one has resulted in blog post being written on week two’s movie ‘Sate of Play ‘and my live tweeting experience as directed by tutor.

Although this was not my first live tweeting experience it was definitely out of my comfort zone. I would not consider myself a multitasker and attempting to pay attention to the screen and movie presented all while tweeting and researching. Following the suggestion to pre write or prepare some information about the movie prior to the tutorial I will be doing this before week three, so I am able to pay closer attention to the ongoing film.

‘State of Play’ created in 2013 was an interesting ethnographic film. As someone who is new to the word of Esports and gaming it was interesting to see the perspective of the gamers and I was shocked to hear they are required to play or ‘train’ for 10-12 hours per day. The players were a part of a team, which was an interesting perspective to many regular games that are played solo. The team won and lost together, they had a captain and attended tournaments much like a regular professional sporting team. The South Korean culture seemed so far from what I know in western society and only when the team attended an esports even in Los Angeles did I realise the enormity of the sport. The South Korean family views on gaming was something else that shocked me, following one of my tweets referring to a comment one of the gamers fathers made (“your brain is not very good”) a fellow BCM320 student who is Korean replied stating that this is common, the shaming of one another and from a senior and went on to say that she was not fond of the practice, which is interesting. I also found the documentary similar to those of many western celebrity documentaries, I even came across a tweet which compared it to that of ‘One Direction’.
The entire class live tweeting morale was different to past live tweeting experiences, everyone seemed to be engaging with one another and not just ‘tweeting to themselves’. Through this digital medium, I believe the class engaged more than they would have in a general class setting. Many tweets were mentioning the players health, that of their eyes, mind and sun exposure problems. This would have to be addressed as mentioned above the players are spending an excessive amount of time indoors and are bound to impact their health in the long run, this however was not shown in the documentary besides one player attending the gym. I am looking forward to next week’s live tweeting experience and the film to see how the interaction compares.


State of Play

Note: Due to absence in week one I was requested by my tutor to blog on week two’s screening.

This week in BCM320 Digital Asia the movie screened was ‘State of Play’, released in 2013 and directed by Steven Dhoedt. The ethnographic documentary followed the competitive journeys of both professional and up and coming youth gamers in South Korea who played the popular 1998 computer game, ‘Starcraft’.

The area of Asian cinema or South Korean cinema to be specific, is a new concept to me. I have never really engaged with it before. Coming from an Australian background I have only ever really been exposed to Western media. Growing up with the internet and being a digital native meant that the world of Asian cinema was never really hidden from me or hard to find I just never sought it. It’s not that I do not have an interest in it I just became too comfortable in the concentration of Western media that I forgot there was much more to be discovered outside of it.

Live-tweeting using the class hashtag is encouraged and I think it definitely heightens the overall film experience. It allows fellow classmates to share and view extra information that provides a better understanding of the film with added context, such as the backstory of the game itself and the Korean gaming culture as a whole. Live-tweeting also allows the expansion on subjects discussed within the film, for example, gaming as a possible Olympic sport in the near future. It sets up a friendly and relatable space and online community that the class can use to come together as one to either discuss, educate or simply have a joke among one another in relation to the screening.

In terms of how I make sense of the film, luckily due to my involvement in gaming culture I could partially understand the passion and frustration within the roller-coaster of winning and losing. I think on a personal level as well it is easy to relate to their journeys of hard work the individuals put in to achieve their professional dream. This translates to our own goals we set out to complete in life which isn’t always easy.

Overall I think the film was an interesting take on how big the gaming industry is and its success to the point of providing professional employment with large salaries for those with talent. From my first experience with Asian cinema, I am definitely looking forward to what is next.

The Host 2006: Imbalance of Power

2019 is my final year at UOW and I only had to pick a bunch of electives to complete my degree. Going through the list I found a neat little subject that watches movies as an assignment! How neat is that! Coming from a field which writes research reports and calculates numbers, writing blogs is a whole new playing field.

I’m an Asian Australian that was exposed to a lot of different cultures through family, media and of course food. I’ve went through the “Koreaboo” phases in high school and currently the “Weeb” phase… unfortunately. I’m no stranger to international films but critiquing films and drawing on my experiences is new to me.

We were asked to live-tweet about the film and the experience we felt throughout the screening. This is completely new to me and my view is limited, but I’ve spoken during movies, so I guess its kind of the same thing. (Sorry). The film had many interesting moments that ranged from comedy, politics and bad CGI horror.

From the get-go there was a showing of imbalance of power between two nations. America and South Korea. The imbalance of power is through both Legitimate Power and Expert Power. According to Raven 2008 legitimate power comes from a position or role, someone that is in a position of authority or higher ranked that can give orders to others. Expert power is having the knowledge or expertise in a field that others can rely on you to give valid expertise on (Raven, 2008).

During the opening scene we see two surgeons, an American and a Korean. The American surgeon uses his legitimate power of higher ranked surgeon to order the Korean surgeon (Mr. Kim) to pour toxic chemicals down a drain. Of course, Mr. Kim knows this isn’t the right thing to do but the American surgeon uses his expert power by telling Mr. Kim that the Han river is a big river, and everything will be alright.

Later into the film, Park Gang-doo was captured and contained in a facility and was met by an American and Korean translating doctor. The American doctor uses his expert power and first says the virus is now in Park Gang-doo brain but then explains to the Korean doctor (as well as Park) that there actually is no virus. The American doctor uses his Legitimate and expert Power of higher ranked doctor to continue with the operation to remove the “virus”. No-one would question him since he is in a role of authority and in a field where great expertise is needed.

I look forward to the upcoming films that I will be watching, and I hope I can broaden my horizon and critique better.

Me writing my first blog ever.
(American Doctor from the Host 2006)


Raven, B. (2008). The Bases of Power and the Power/Interaction Model of Interpersonal Influence. Analyses Of Social Issues And Public Policy8(1), 1-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-2415.2008.00159.x

The Host: A White Girls Interpretation

Upon seeing the subject title ‘Digital Asia’, I felt instantly intimidated and hesitant. I have rarely ventured beyond the realm of Western media, and for this I blame my upbringing in a “typical” white Australian household. I guess I have developed a sense of indifference towards Asian media, not because of any personal prejudice, but rather a simple lack of exposure – until now. (more…)

‘The Host’ – Monster-ous Political Satire…

Autoethnography… a term that constantly arises in media subjects, yet the definition still regularly evades me.

Defined by Ellis et al (2011), autoethnographical research is the process of ‘retrospectively and selectively writing about epiphanies that stem from, or are made possible by, being part of a culture and/or possessing a particular cultural identity’. The key word being that of ‘culture’, whereby, comparison and contrast between or within one’s culture allows for a deep, reflexive autoethnographical analysis of a topic. Thus, it must be made clear that such research in fact uses subjectivity as a crucial component in understanding the power dynamics and fluidity of culture. Moreover, she or he may be able to reach wider and more diverse mass audiences that traditional research usually disregards, a move that can make personal and social change possible for more people’ (Ellis et al, 2011), thus it is the inclusion of one’s attitude and beliefs that encourages cultural perspectives to develop and transform.

The Host imageThis leads me to consider how my cultural background impacted my interpretation of the film ‘The Host’. Having never watched a Korean movie before I was entering into a diverse, new cultural world. Growing up in an Anglo-Saxon household, in a small country town, restricted my access and interest in the multifaceted, culturally diverse Asian film industry. Thus, the film for me was viewed in comparison to a typical Hollywood film, illustrating how a contextual personal background can significantly influence one’s cinematic experience and interpretation of Korean film culture. In this case the exaggeration and satire made for a somewhat bizarre film experience.

The task of live tweeting throughout the film pushed me to question and analyse the historical context and subsequent use of satire. As Matt Kim reported, ‘the implications of the story, American imperialism and its military presence on the Korean peninsula, were lost on those unfamiliar with modern Korean history…’ (2016), whilst in another contextual twist,  ‘… underneath the imagery of American military presence was the even more subversive narrative of the incompetent South Korean bureaucracy’ (Kim, 2016). Evidently, the use of satirical language and themes within the film led me to reflect upon the US/South Korean relationship, thus reflexively applying my historical knowledge allowed me to better understand the political, social and cultural themes at play.

The process of live tweeting subsequently saw me further develop my understanding of Korean anxieties and desires, whereby, the clear loss of tradition is juxtaposed by the new freedoms accorded to South Koreans through Western influence (Turner, 2012, pg. 12). Coming from a Westernised perspective, the development within South Korea would be viewed as a democratic step forward. However, we must draw from ‘The Host’ and understand that Western influence and the subsequent demise of cultural identity is an enormous anxiety not only in South Korea, but throughout the world. 


Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P, 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1

Kim, M 2016, ‘The Korean New Wave and the Anxieties of South Korean Cinema’, Inverse, https://www.inverse.com/article/13916-the-korean-new-wave-and-the-anxieties-of-south-korean-cinema, viewed 1/8/19

Turner, J 2012, ‘Monstrous Dialogues: THE HOST and South Korean Inverted Exile’, University of South Florida Scholar Commons, Graduate Thesis and Dissertations, pg. 1-12 -Accessible online: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5440&context=etd