South Korean ‘mukbang’ YouTuber Tzuyang reveals shocking behind-the-scenes hardships

South Korean ‘mukbang’ YouTuber Tzuyang reveals shocking behind-the-scenes hardships

Content Warning: This article contains mentions of physical abuse and suicide and may be potentially triggering for some readers.

Tzuyang, real name Park Jung-won, is one of South Korea and the world’s most popular “mukbang” YouTubers.

Through videos where she eats copious amounts of food, Tzuyang has amassed over 10 million subscribers, even making it to popular variety shows in South Korea. Recently, however, the 27-year-old was caught up in a controversy that shocked her followers and the country.

Tzuyang was allegedly extorted and abused by her ex-boyfriend

On a live stream on Wednesday, July 10, titled “I will tell you everything,” during which over two million people tuned in, Tzuyang revealed that she endured physical abuse at the hands of her ex-boyfriend for four years.

She decided to admit to it all now because it became known that she was being blackmailed by other YouTubers, namely Hwang Cheol-soon, Gujaeok, Crocodile, Ganggo, Karacula, and Eom Tae-woong (known as the Rekka Union, a term that describes content creators who spread gossip and scandals about celebrities online), with compromising information about her past, fed to them by her ex-boyfriend before he took his own life. Korean media obtained phone call recordings where the group of men discussed their actions, saying that the information they had on Tzuyang would force her to retire if it ever came out, and bragged about making thousands of dollars from the threats.

The information in question seemingly pertained to the YouTuber’s previous job before her career as a “mukbanger” took off in 2019. On the live stream, Tzuyang shared that, when they began dating, and he was first physically abusive, she attempted to break up with him only for the man to threaten to leak a sexually explicit video taken without her consent. That’s when he forced her to work at an establishment he owned, where she would personally serve and pour drinks for customers. Per her account, when she mentioned wanting to quit, he beat her and threatened to tell her family. She then proposed becoming a streamer as a means to make money for him instead.

When Tzuyang’s channel started to grow, the man allegedly set up a management company, taking 70% of the YouTube profit. The woman says she never saw any money from advertisement deals. Two legal representatives, who joined her during the livestream, estimate the man earned a profit of nearly $3 million. They also provided text messages and photos that seemingly corroborated Tzuyang’s story.

They’re explaining in #Tzuyang‘s LIVE now, I can’t believe this happened to her. Tzuyang, that scumbag that did this to her should be punished.

— Dairyl Sweet ⟬⟭ (@Ellamiks) July 10, 2024

Throughout it all, the abuse persisted, extending to the staff working for the company and channel. The ex-boyfriend reportedly broke cameras and monitors, at which point Tzuyang cut all contact and offered to give him all her assets in exchange for peace. That didn’t go down smoothly, either, with the man threatening her over the phone, showing up at her house, harassing the staff, and, ultimately, leaking information about her to the Rekka Union.

According to the South Korean Yonhap news agency, that was when the YouTuber decided to file charges against her ex-boyfriend, including sexual assault, threats, and blackmail. The case was closed after the man committed suicide.

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