Gongbang is the name of the growing trend in South Korea where people live stream themselves while studying in almost total silence for hours. Sometimes there are hundreds of viewers who love nothing more than to watch these people studying. If you ask the popular streamers, they will tell you that the key to a successful live-streaming career is to provide entertaining and exciting content and viewer engagement. But Gongbang is exciting since it is something in which the streamers are not doing anything exciting.
Gongbang streamers almost never connect with their audience, and the most exciting thing they do is turning a page every once in a while. They only broadcast themselves studying for many hours at a time and so some weird reason, people love to watch them do it. A few months ago, a South Korean streamer Bot-No-Jam, became successful on YouTube by broadcasting himself studying for up to 7 hours at a time. Many people have given credit to his good looks for bringing so many viewers to his youtube. Whatsoever the reason is, he is among the successful Gongbang streamers who study with so much dedication and have earned several fans.
Some of the Gongbang streamers came up with the idea as a way to prove to their parents that they were studying instead of wasting their time. While some other decided to use it as a self-motivation tool since there are fewer chances to be distracted when you know you are being watched. The popularity of these boring streams is closely tied to South Korean culture. Studying is not a joke in this country while some students study for up to 18 hours a day for important exams. Some leave their Gongbang streams open while they are studying. Whenever they get distracted, their streamer reminds them that they need to get back to their work.
Gongbang streams differ from channel to channel, but they all share the same concept. A streamer who studies for several hours at a time with a timer showing how long they have been studying shows on the screen. Some streamers show their face, while others have their cameras towards their hands and books, some play music while some play white noise to help with the concentration. Gongbang has become an online support platform which keeps the students motivated and focused on their studies. A Gongbang streamer said, “Solo test-takers constantly battle against the feeling of loneliness while studying alone. By watching Gongbang and engaging in real-time chatting, people can stay motivated and feel a sense of belonging. They can also share their study tips and test information through the comments.”
Another 23 years old, Yoon Min-young told a Korean newspaper, “I feel a sense of rivalry when I see streamers sitting down and reading books for a long time. Whenever I feel like giving up on studying, I watch Gongbang and recharge my motivation. At the same time, I feel relieved especially when I see those live videos on quiet, lonely nights. They make me feel I’m not the only one who stays up all night for studying. I’ve never met the Gongbang streamers in person, but they have already become my good study buddies and pacemakers.” The trend of studying is not as competitive in other countries as it is in South Korea. Therefore, there are very few YouTube channels related to it as well. Nearly 4000 videos of Gongbang have been uploaded so far on YouTube this year, and their number is growing every day.