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CultureReview
A Tasty Bite of Fun, Snack Culture
Hwang Ji-won  |  1234567pal@naver.com
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승인 2014.03.20  20:28:24
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn

In the morning rush hours, when buses and subways are packed with people, we are not even allowed the space to move our arms. In these small and cramped spaces where blinking is the only thing one can do, most people’s eyes are fixed to their smartphones or tablets. Watching video clips or playing games, they try to make the most out of this restricted situation and enjoy a little break time. Comparing it to the easily enjoyable features of snacks, this trend in media use has been called ‘Snack Culture’. Chosen as one of the “Trends in Culture and Art for 2014” by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, increased consciousness of this Snack Culture is expected to be one of this year’s most evident trend. Let’s find out more about it.

Sweet Temptation of Snack Culture

Snack Culture refers to fast habits of how the public is consuming information and cultural resources. To contemporary people, who are suffering from heavy workloads, living a leisurely cultural life may sound like too much of a luxury. Instead, cultural media that can be enjoyed quickly using intermediate times, such as after lunch break or morning rush hours, are getting the limelight. Being capable of providing fresh and diverse contents to contemporary consumers who are always in want of something new, Snack Culture has rapidly become a culture trend. In addition, along with the wide-spread use of mobile devices, Snack Culture is becoming more and more common as a mode of behavior.

Choose Your Flavor and Try!

One of the best examples of Snack Culture is mobile movies, which have recently appeared in various portal sites. Mobile movies are streaming movies that are about 10 to 15 minutes long, and are viewed on YouTube, SNS, or portal sites. These are rapidly gaining popularity because they they can be enjoyed anywhere at any time, with plenty of materials to catch people’s eyes. Let’s take a look at some of the mobile movies that have recently been released.

Produced based on a famous webtoon of the same title, ‘Misaeng’ is a series type of mobile movie. Originally, the webtoon ‘Misaeng’ was about a man and his interpersonal relations in South Korean corporations, drawing an analogy between the game of baduk and life in modern society. The thing is that the mobile movie ‘Misaeng’ does not have the exact same storyline as the webtoon version, but is a prequel movie that sheds light on the background stories of main characters. This shows that culture content in the forms of Snack Culture have potential possibility of being developed as an independent forms of cultural content instead of just being considered a simplified version of other work. Endless development of new cultural contents in forms conducive to Snack Culture is expected in close future.

Another example of a mobile movie is ‘The Hungry Woman’, which is about a 30-year-old woman trying to change her life after a break up with her boyfriend. It uses ‘mukbang’, the act of eating, as the source of the story, which was well received by the public for its freshness. Mobile movies can reflect the latest trends in current society, where new concepts are constantly emerging. Furthermore, as they spread faster, mobile movies can be distributed at the right time to suit the needs and demands of the public.

Snack Culture as a Trend

Originally, Snack Culture was limited to on-line contents on mobile devices, but it is now spreading to off-line content as well. One example is ‘trail running’. Trail running is a simplified version of a marathon, which can be enjoyed with less stress because there is less pressure. Another example is ‘day camping’, which is also a shorter version of camping. All the cumbersome processes of packing and preparing are removed in day camping, and one only needs to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere.

Snack Culture well reflects picture of people living in modern society who are constantly adjusting to their daily lives. Whereas many people’s lives were once dominated by daily routines in the past, contemporary people tend to act more freely and be the master of their lives. They find their own joy and freedom in a busy daily life, and live more efficiently. Differences in habits of spending money have been seen as well. Compared to the past when people seriously considered over buying just a T-shirt, today’s people tend to buy and replace clothes more easily and without serious consideration. Led by want instead of need, people are showing a fast turnover in their consumption. As such, Snack Culture has now settled in as a trend, reflecting a picture of our society.

Positive Effect of Snack Culture

Like all things, there are both positive and negative effects to Snack Culture. As for the positive effect, Snack Culture revitalizes the development of diverse cultural contents. Old cultural content, such as movies or on-line games, required a long time and much effort to produce, as well as a tremendous amount of money. Other factors such as the number of staffs required and buying the latest equipment were also mandatory. However, cultural content in forms of this Snack Culture are distinctly different. Mobile dramas or movies require a relatively short amount of time and effort to produce, which also means lower budgets. Furthermore, there are fewer restrictions in choosing materials, and the door is open for the young or start-up businesses to produce content, as it is spread on-line. Producing and viewing cultural content has now become accessible for anyone.

Negative Effect of Snack Culture

However, there are many concerns regarding rise of Snack Culture as well. Just like a snack is considered to be more like a fast food rather than a slow food, criticisms have been made that Snack Culture is a consumptive phenomenon that is only focused on a moment of fun. They argue that cultural content in the forms of Snack Culture are only made to catch people’s eyes and do not include any healthy or beneficial information. Some worry that this may hinder development of cultural content in the long-term. In addition, as its development is more open for everyone to post, inappropriate content is more likely to be spread through the Internet. These effects could be quite huge and has caused concerns that it may become a social problem.

New, fast, and simple. These are the adjectives that describe the direction that our society is headed to. These are also the adjectives that describe the features of Snack Culture. As such, Snack Culture is a distinctive trend that well reflects a picture of our modern society. Snacks are tasty and tempting, attracting many people’s taste. Yet, it is also true that most snacks lack nutrients. We have to admit that being able to enjoy cultural content in convenience is a huge benefit, but we also have to admit that it has become hard for us to enjoy more in-depth cultural experiences due to the rise of this Snack Culture. We need to keep a balance between the two, enjoying Snack Culture while not losing a wide appreciation of cultural refinement at the same time. After all, nobody wants their lives to become like a snack, right?

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