Food porn has reached new heights.
Just ask Kim Thai, a 25-year-old YouTuber who films herself eating large amounts of food — mainly seafood, Andrea Stanley for Cosmopolitan reported.
Within eight months of launching her channel Eat with Kim, Thai has amassed more than 200,000 subscribers and a six-figure salary from ads and sponsorships, such as with DoorDash and Pepto-Bismol, according to Stanley. She's since quit her social-media job at a national beauty brand to focus on YouTube full time and is planning her own clothing line.
"It was a super nerve-racking move and a big leap," Thai told Stanley. "But looking back, I'm so glad I decided to follow my heart."
She added: "And to know that my videos are something that people look forward to watching reminds me why I started."
Thai is part of the mukbang ("muck-bong") influencer community, "a hangry and increasingly lucrative corner of the internet ... in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of fans eat up videos of women ingesting massive quantities of food," Stanley wrote, adding that mukbang — a South Korean "mash-up term" that means eating and broadcasting — most often features seafood.
Some viewers find mukbang to be sensual, Stanley reported: "For some, hearing fingers tap on a mic, or the visceral crack of a crab leg, or the loud licking of briny butter out of a mussel is a near-pornographic experience."
But for others, watching one ingest seafood is a vicarious experience if they can't afford the food or are allergic to it; it also provides company for those who typically eat alone, according to Stanley.
But Thai and the mukbang community aren't the only ones making a profit from YouTube, which has kicked off the careers of many famous — and rich — influencers. The 10 highest-paid YouTube stars collectively take home more than $180 million a year, according to a recent Forbes ranking.
While half the top-earning YouTubers of 2018 share a focus on video games, the most lucrative channel centers on 7-year-old Ryan, who hosts Ryan ToysReview and brought in $22 million for his family last year, Business Insider's Kevin Webb reported.
Webb wrote, "YouTube's impact on pop culture can't be ignored — the platform's top stars become the world's premier influencers, coveted by media outlets and advertisers for their ability to reach tens of millions of followers on a daily basis."
This post originally appeared on Business Insider.