A meal and a webcam form unlikely recipe for S. Korean fame, and a challenge for TV industry In this Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 photo, Kim Sung-jin, 14, broadcasts himself eating delivery Chinese food in his room at home in Bucheon, south of Seoul, South Korea. Every evening, he gorges on food as he chats before a live camera with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of teenagers watching. That’s the show, and it makes Kim money: 2 million won ($1,700) in his most successful episode. Better known to his viewers by the nickname Patoo, he is one of the youngest broadcasters on Afreeca TV, an app for live-broadcasting video online launched in 2006. (AP Photo/Julie Yoon) SEOUL, South Korea – Every evening, 14-year-old Kim Sung-jin orders fried chicken, delivery pizza or Chinese food to eat in a small room in his family’s home south of Seoul. He gorges on food as he chats before a live camera with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of teenagers watching.That’s the show, and it makes Kim money: 2 million won ($1,700) in his most successful episode.Better known to his viewers by the nickname Patoo, he is one of the youngest broadcasters on Afreeca TV, an app for live-broadcasting video online launched in 2006.Kim, who has a delicate physique and chopstick-like slight limbs, has been broadcasting himself eating almost every evening since he was 11. Sometimes he invites friends to eat with him. To add fun, he once wore a blonde wig and dressed as a woman.While the Internet has been making stars for years — from bloggers to gamers who play for millions of YouTube viewers — outsiders may find it puzzling, if not outright bizarre, for young people to spend hours watching someone eating. But in South Korea, Afreeca TV has become a big player in the Internet subculture and a crucial part of social life for teens.Shows like Kim’s are known as “Meok Bang,” a mash-up Korean word of broadcast and eating. They are the most popular and often most profitable among some 5,000 live shows that are aired live at any given moment on Afreeca TV.Kim started the show essentially to find someone to eat with. His parents worked in another city so he was living with his grandparents, and they ate dinner so early he got hungry at night.He says the show made his dining more regular, although most of his meals on Afreeca TV begin after 10 p.m. The show also brought him unexpected joy: He said that even though he’s just an ordinary teenager, “people say hello to me on the street.”“I do what I want. That’s the perk of a personal broadcast.”Many connect the popularity of Meok Bang to the increasing number of South Koreans who live alone, and to the strong social aspects of food in this society.“Even if it is online, when someone talks while eating, the same words feel much more intimate,” said Ahn Joon-soo, an executive at Afreeca TV. He noted South Koreans’ common habit of bidding farewell to friends by saying, “Let’s eat together next time,” even when they don’t literally mean it.There are plenty of other quirky offerings on Afreeca TV. Late at night there is “Sool Bang” — broadcast drinking — in which melancholic South Koreans drink liquor alone discussing their tough lives. Then there is “Study Bang,” or broadcast studying: A screen shows the hand of an unidentified person writing notes on a thick book under the light of a desk lamp.About 60 per cent of the 8 million unique monthly visitors to Afreeca TV are teens or in their 20s. That means nearly 40 per cent of the 12.5 million South Koreans aged 10 to 30 watch a show on Afreeca TV at least once a month.“Young generations believe that TV is naturally something like Afreeca TV where they can interact with broadcasters,” said Ahn, the company executive. He believes TV in the long run will be completely replaced by such apps.Cho Young-min, a 12-year-old who has watched an online game show on Afreeca TV since he was a third-grader, aspires to have his own show on Afreeca TV, not on the TV in the living room.Ahn Won-jun, a 17-year-old high school student, said he prefers to eat dinner in his room to watch Kim’s Meok Bang, rather than dining with his parents.Kim isn’t a particularly polite virtual dinner guest. He burps loudly before his audiences and sometimes walks off abruptly, announcing with some specificity that he needs to use the bathroom. He usually leaves his fans with a mission, during his absence, promising a prize to the person who last clicks the “like” button when he is back.Hardcore Afreeca TV viewers are drawn to hosts like Kim because they can interact with them, unlike more distant TV stars. Fans say they feel their blood rush and heart flutter when a host reacts to their comments, singling them out in the stream of hundreds of live chat messages.“I was so moved,” said Lee Yeon-joo, a 15-year-old recalling the moment when a 26-year-old man read her message in the middle of his live show. “You cannot really approach celebrities.”Afreeca TV users can get broadcasters’ attention by giving them “star balloons,” which cost them about 10 cents apiece. The show hosts keep most of that money, though Afreeca TV takes a cut of up to 40 per cent.Most broadcasters, including Kim, are reluctant to reveal how much money they make. Afreeca TV said out of some 300,000 broadcasters who air their show at least once a month, top 500 make more than what one would normally make by working full time, but the company declined to be more specific. In 2013, a South Korea television network TV Chosun cited a lawmaker’s office that the top Afreeca TV host earned 298 million won ($250,000) a year.Live-streaming videos are going mainstream, both in South Korea and overseas.In Asia, services such as YYTV in China have been in use by tens of millions of users for years, and also have developed ways to let broadcasters generate income.Meerkat and Periscope from Twitter, two live-streaming apps in the U.S., were launched in March. Facebook is launching its own live-streaming service called Live, although it will be only available for famous people.South Korean search giant Naver rushed to launch a real-time video service where K-pop stars can live-stream their behind-the-scenes lives. One of the most talked-about TV shows on a South Korean TV network this year was “My Little Television,” which adopted similar features to Afreeca TV, such as the format of one person broadcasting a show live while responding to comments from viewers.Afreeca TV’s model may not translate across borders, however. The company’s efforts to make inroads in Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. have met with little response.___Follow Youkyung Lee on Twitter at twitter.com/YKLeeAP___Online:Afreeca: www.afreeca.com by Youkyung Lee, The Associated Press Posted Aug 19, 2015 3:24 pm MDT Last Updated Aug 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email
by Susan Haigh And Julie Bykowicz, The Associated Press Posted Dec 7, 2016 7:05 pm MDT Last Updated Dec 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Trump chooses former WWE exec McMahon for small business FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, Linda McMahon talks with reporters after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. President-elect Donald Trump will nominate wrestling executive Linda McMahon to serve as administrator of the Small Business Administration, a Cabinet-level position. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) WASHINGTON – President-elect Donald Trump is adding former wrestling executive Linda McMahon to his Cabinet as leader of the Small Business Administration.McMahon and her husband, Vince, founded and built World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., now a publicly traded sports entertainment company. She stepped down as the company’s chief executive in 2009 and earlier this year launched a joint venture, Women’s Leadership LIVE, which promotes opportunities for women in business and public service.She also poured $100 million of her fortune into two unsuccessful bids for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010 and 2012 and has become an influential Republican donor — including to the Trump campaign.“Linda is going to be a phenomenal leader and champion for small businesses and unleash America’s entrepreneurial spirit all across the country,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday.Trump said McMahon shares his vision of decreasing “burdensome regulations that are hurting our middle-class workers and small businesses.”“As an entrepreneur myself, I have shared the experiences of our nation’s small business owners and will do my best to advocate on their behalf,” McMahon, 68, said in a statement. “My husband and I built our business from scratch, building it to a publicly traded global enterprise with more than 800 employees.”The SBA, best known for the small business loans it makes and the disaster aid it provides to companies and entrepreneurs, is also tasked with monitoring government officials’ compliances with contract laws. Its budget is generally under $1 billion.McMahon’s two Democratic Senate opponents had kind words for their former foe.Sen. Richard Blumenthal called her “a person of serious accomplishment and ability” who can help small businesses as long as “she is not hamstrung by the dangerous economic policies espoused by other Trump-nominated Cabinet officials.” Meanwhile, Sen. Chris Murphy called McMahon a “talented and experienced businessperson” who helped shepherd WWE from an idea into a successful business.“Of course, I know firsthand what a fierce fighter Linda McMahon is, and though we haven’t always seen eye to eye, I have confidence she’ll bring that fight to the SBA on behalf of Connecticut small businesses,” he said.Some national small business advocates said they had little experience with McMahon but hoped she would understand the needs of small companies. Connecticut members of the National Federation of Independent Business had supported McMahon when she ran for Senate, NFIB spokesman Jack Mozloom said.“Her views with small business aligned very well with our views. If that indicates what kind of SBA administrator she’ll be, that’ll be good,” Mozloom said.The Small Business Majority said it would have liked a nominee with more direct small business experience, but was optimistic McMahon would support companies and their owners.“We hope that she recognizes the unique role that the SBA plays in providing much-needed capital and support to America’s small businesses and that she is prepared to play a strong role advocating for small business needs throughout the government,” said John Arensmeyer, the group’s CEO.The contract laws that the SBA monitors compliance with are aimed at ensuring small businesses get at least 23 per cent of federal contracting money that is considered eligible for small businesses. The SBA also sponsors small business training and assistance at hundreds of centres across the country. And its Office of Advocacy’s responsibilities include challenging government regulations that pose a burden for small businesses.House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, called McMahon an excellent choice.“I look forward to working with her and the new administration to roll back burdensome regulations and increase access to capital for America’s 28 million small businesses,” he said.Trump wasn’t McMahon’s top choice for president. She first backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But McMahon has known Trump for three decades, and contributed $5 million to Trump’s family charity, almost all of it in 2007. He participated in WWE events, including a 2007 “Battle of the Billionaires,” during which he shaved Vince McMahon’s head.After Trump secured the Republican nomination, McMahon became one of his most generous benefactors. Fundraising records show she gave $6 million to an outside group that aired supportive commercials and attack ads against Democrat Hillary Clinton. She also gave more than $150,000 to the Trump campaign and his Republican Party partners at the end of September.McMahon told The Associated Press in September that she was confident Trump would be a good president and said the two were on good terms.“Once you’re his friend, he is loyal to the end,” she said. “He’s an incredibly loyal, loyal friend.”__Haigh reported from Hartford, Connecticut. AP Business Writer Joyce Rosenberg in New York contributed to this report.