Age: First reported in 2018, although it may have been going on for a decade before that.
Appearance: An online video genre catering to a particular taste.
I’ll bet. What’s in these videos? Unedited footage of people studying quietly, often for up to 12 hours.
The name led me to believe it was going to be way more interesting. Gongbang is a portmanteau of gongbu bangsong, the Korean for “study broadcast”.
So this is a Korean thing? Largely, but it’s spreading across the world. The most popular videos rack up hundreds of thousands of views.
I’m not sure I understand this – are they studying naked or something? No, they’re just studying. Sometimes it’s raining outside.
Why would anyone want to watch that? There are lots of reasons. Originally, it is said, these study sessions were livestreamed so that South Korean students could assure their parents they were working hard.
That’s deeply weird, but OK. Soon, their fellow students came to find watching these marathon videos relaxing and even motivating.
Because we’ve all lost our marbles? Because university students are lonely – they have been learning remotely for months. Gongbang recreates the camaraderie of group study.
I’m sorry, the what of what? You know, all having quiet fun in the library together.
I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re talking about. Didn’t they have group study in your university days?
They may have done, for all I know. Can you talk me through one of these videos? They normally begin with the subject sitting at a desk or table with their study materials before them. Sometimes their faces are visible, sometimes they are obscured.
And it’s raining, you say? Not always – there could be ambient library sounds, or cafe noise, or calming music added later.
I see. And there is usually a timer in the corner of the screen, since most of the students seem to favour the Pomodoro technique, with bursts of timed study punctuated by short breaks.
That’s it, for 12 hours? They don’t suddenly deliver an expletive-laden, furniture-smashing, anti-capitalist rant six hours in? I don’t know – I can’t be bothered to watch a whole video.
Do say: “It’s 8am, it’s hammering down and I’ve got a state accountancy exam tomorrow – let’s gongbang, people!”
Don’t say: “Before we begin the gongbang, can you pass me the gang bong?”