YouTuber Sparks Outrage After Posts 'Horrifying' Video 'Torturing' And Eating Live Octopus
A YouTuber boasting 3.4 million followers is facing major backlash after posting a series of videos showing her eating live animals.
Ssoyoung, a popular South Korean 'mukbang' YouTuber, recently rose to fame for posting videos that show her eating large quantities of food. as well as ASMR videos (Autonomous sensory meridian response), which is a phenomenon that people believe brings "pleasure from watching or listening to everyday habits like whispering, hair brushing, folding clothes".
The YouTuber has sparked outrage across social media after a six-month-old video of her eating a live octopus resurfaced, with viewers claiming the star seems to "torture" and "abuse" animals before eating them alive.
One video, titled "Dancing Live Squid," Ssoyoung is seen cutting off several squids' legs, before coating them in soy sauce and eating them as they try to squirm away.
In another distressing video, she pours salt on a tank live eels and laughs as they thrash about the enclosure in distress.
Fellow YouTube star Ethan Klein is one of many influencers who have since spoken out about Ssoyoung's treatment of the aquatic animals in his own video, slamming the star for taking her content "too far".
“Ssoyoung’s mukbang knows no limits. She eats her victims alive… Writhing in pain, headfirst into the demonic abyss of her mouth,” Klein said while showing clips of her eating live octopuses.
"I think she knows that if she wasn't acting at least a little squeamish and nervous about it, then she would be seen as a total sociopath," he said. "But she clearly loves torturing animals. No question about it."
Viewers echoed Klein's outrage, with one commenter writing: “The [octopi] are fighting for their life, and she broadcasts it to the internet.”
Another added: "The saddest scene is when the octopus legs attach to her face as it fights while its head is eaten."
YouTuber Tyler Rugge joined in the condemnation of the controversial videos, posing a video titled "Mukbang Youtuber who Hurts & Kills Animals on Camera," in which he called for Ssoyoung's removal from YouTube.
After some suggested that criticising the video was "culturally insensitive", Rugge, who is of part-Japanese heritage, explained in a second video:
"Just because something is someone's culture, it doesn't justify it. Another thing -- it's really not a big part of Asian culture to do the things that she was doing," he said.
"Sure, some people in Asia do do that stuff, but it's not like it's a widely accepted practice."
While live octopus is, a delicacy in South Korea, however, if not prepared correctly it can be a choking hazard if the squid's suckers on their still-moving tentacles get stuck in a person's throat. In fact,in 2010 a woman died collapsed and stopped breathing after eating a live octopus at a restaurant, and later died in hospital.
While it may be a food consumed in South Korean culture, cephalopod expert Jennifer Mather, PhD who spoke to VICE insists that the way in which Ssoyoung is preparing the sea creatures is needlessly cruel, saying that octopi have "a nervous system which is much more distributed than ours.
"[The octopus] is feeling pain every time you do it. It's just as painful as if ... you chopped a rabbit's leg off piece by piece. So it's a barbaric thing to do to the animal," she said.
She added, "There is cultural sensitivity, and there is suffering. I suspect that they're just throwing an octopus on a chopping block and cutting off pieces as they go, and they are absolutely causing that animal suffering. There's no doubt about it."
Animal abuse is explicitly banned on YouTube under its Violent or Graphic content policy, saying that the platform is against content "where there is infliction of unnecessary suffering or harm deliberately causing an animal distress."
YouTube specifically cites "non-educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic content that shows unnecessary suffering" as subject to the policy.
However, following complaints about the unsettling videos, YouTube gave the following statement, insisting the video doesn't violate their policy.
"Our trust and safety team is located around the globe and we draw upon this regional expertise when drafting our policies. We have strict policies regarding animal abuse, and have determined the videos highlighted do not violate them," they said.