What exactly are ‘gongbang’ videos?

‘Gongbang’ enthusiasts film themselves studying quietly, sometimes for hours. — AFP Relaxnews

Ready for the latest YouTube trend? Students filming themselves... studying.

This concept, which hails from South Korea, and is capable of scoring millions of views online, goes by the name of ‘gongbang’. Here, a vowel makes all the difference, as there's nothing sexual about it, at all. If the word gongbang sent your mind racing towards a certain category of adult websites, then rein it back in, because there's nothing sexual about this South Korean trend.

The word actually describes an online video genre that involves students filming themselves studying quietly, allowing viewers to recreate a kind of virtual library or study group experience. The word comes from ‘gongbu bangsong’, which literally means “study broadcast”. And, as Le Temps reports, it’s perhaps not so surprising that this concept hails from a country where it can be normal to spend up to 16 hours a day revising for entry exams to university or college.

Alone but together

“Study With Me at the New York Public Library” is the title of this YouTube video by Sarang Choi, which has been watched almost a million times. And there are plenty of popular channels. One of the biggest hits is “The Man Sitting Next To Me”, which counts 53,000 followers.

The aesthetics of this video are reminiscent of ASMR, the videos of people whispering, tapping or blowing into their screens to induce “brain tingles” – or a kind of “head orgasm” – in people who are receptive to the experience.

Facing the camera, the student can be seen scribbling away in a notebook, probably writing out study notes. The video lasts a little over an hour, but some can run for four, six or even 10 hours. – AFP Relaxnews

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