By Emily Pauls
Boston University News Service
Could you imagine living a life where companies send you food from around the world for free and you get to taste them on camera for thousands of followers? This is BU student Irene Kim’s reality.
It all started last spring, when a video of her eating sushi went viral, reaching over 400,000 views. After that video, her account @ireneykim started gaining a regular following and viewership, with posts of herself trying the Crumbl Cookie’s flavors of the week.
“I started doing Crumbl Cookie reviews every week and those were the videos that did really well at the time,” Kim said. “That kind of started it all because people like the food videos, and then I started doing more things and then eventually I started taste testing snacks and stuff.”
Now, with her 355,000-plus followers and a total of 9.1 million likes, she has built a strong community with her account. She has also made friends through TikTok.
“I’ve made friends that I’ve just met through the platform. I haven’t even met them in real life, but I consider them some of my close friends,” Kim said.
One of those friends is Natalie Ludwig from Illinois, whose TikTok account @eatsbynat has more than 86,000 followers.
“What I love about Irene’s content is that it’s fun, diverse and inclusive. Irene promotes not only food positivity, but also cultural diversity. Her videos just simply make you happy when you watch them!” Ludwig wrote in an email.
Kim said her family and friends love her TikTok. Sara Sun, a junior at BU, is Kim’s friend and suitemate.
“I’m really impressed,” Sun said. “I’m really proud of her and just how far she’s gone and how humble she is about everything, and how successful and creative she is.”
Kim shares all of her extra snacks from public relations packages with her family and friends.
“I found really amazing snacks through her that I would personally buy from the supplier, but I don’t need to because she can give them to me,” Sun said. “When she finishes a video, she’ll kind of just let us go in and there’s a box in her room or we can just take whatever we want.”
This way of life that fell into Kim’s lap is something she said she plans on continuing into the future.
“I love just trying new things, like my whole life I’ve loved trying new things and I’ve always said I will never say I don’t like something unless I’ve tried it,” Kim said. “I kind of just took that and then translated it to my TikTok page.”
This story is a part of a series of interviews with local TikTokers. Read more here.