ASMR YouTuber Ssoyoung has been courting controversy for some time.
The South Korean creator takes a unique approach to making her autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) content. Rather than provide quiet commentary and distinct background noise, Ssoyoung creates ASMR mukbang videos. They combine the quiet speaking voice and rustling ambient sound of typical ASMR with the consumption of large quantities of food.
The issue many people take with Ssoyoung’s videos relates to what, precisely, she is eating. The practice of consuming live animals has upset many of Ssoyoung’s viewers and put her on the radar of h3h3Productions’ Ethan Klein.
Typically, Ssoyoung’s live animals of choice are aquatic. Videos show her downing live octopi, squid, and prawns. Oftentimes, her reactions to their flailing tentacles and writhing bodies provide much of the entertainment.
Eating raw and live seafood, especially octopus, is common practice in South Korea. However, live octopus is typically chopped into small pieces for a dish called san-nakji. When eaten in large pieces or whole, live octopus can be a choking hazard, as its tentacles can latch onto the mouth or throat.
Ssoyoung has sparked concern among members of the YouTube community who perceive her videos as animal abuse. Some have even called out YouTube for its lack of action. Recently, thanks to Klein, the outcry among commenters has gained more attention. The 34-year-old YouTuber uploaded a video on April 9 titled “ASMR Has Gone Way Too Far.”
Klein highlighted Ssoyoung’s most popular video, titled “Dancing Live Squid.” The video currently has 24.6 million views. In the video, Ssoyoung removes six live squid from a water-filled casserole dish, chops off their fins and mantle, and then transfers their still-squirming bodies to a griddle.
Later, she pours soy sauce over the squid, which prompts them to squirm and wriggle uncontrollably. According to commenters, this reaction is caused by the soy sauce. “The soy sauce that she puts on the squids is absorbed and causes muscle contractions, which basically means that the poor squid is having muscle spasms until it passes away,” user Far Bread wrote.
Klien notes in his breakdown that Ssoyoung has a tendency to zoom in on the animals in her videos after they’ve been partially prepared for consumption.
“She highlights the brutality of the act,” he said. “I think she knows that if she wasn’t acting at least a little squeamish and nervous about it, then she would be seen as a total sociopath. But she clearly loves torturing animals, there’s no question about it.”
Throughout his video, Klein emphasizes the intelligence of many of the creatures Ssoyoung consumes. Describing octopi as “one of the great marvels of the ocean,” Klein seems particularly devastated to see the sea creatures end up on Ssoyoung’s cutting board. “This is so sick,” he said.
Klein also questions the “culinary value” of eating her meals alive. “If she just put them down humanely, I’m pretty sure the flavor would be the same.”
YouTube did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
*First Published: Apr 10, 2020, 11:02 am
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT’s Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.