From performing at Yonsei University’s Akaraka festival and teaching English on Jeju Island, to making content as a full-time creator, TikTok influencer Max Not Beer has been enjoying a variety of experiences in South Korea.
Max -- whose real name is Max Abrams -- moved to Korea last February from the US to pursue his career as a full-time content creator, having garnered a significant following of over 1.2 million followers on TikTok. His content mainly consists of personal stories and comical skits about his experiences living in Korea and studying Korean.
Max first stepped foot on the peninsula in 2019 as an exchange student at Yonsei University, majoring in international affairs with Korea as the main focus area. He credits the origin of his interest in Korea to fond memories of a sundubu jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew) restaurant in his hometown and the K-pop group Girls’ Generation’s music video “Catch Me if You Can.”
“Between sundubu jjigae and Girls’ Generation, I had this glimmer of interest in a place I knew absolutely nothing about. There were so many things to fall in love with and so many things to learn. No matter how much I study or how long I’ve lived here, I’m still learning new things every day,” Max told The Korea Herald.
Max started making content on TikTok in early 2020 in the US, when people were left struggling amid rising COVID-19 infections and plummeting employment rates. Fresh out of college, he was ready to show the world what he had learned. With the pandemic limiting his options, he turned to content creation for artistic relief.
“I felt like I had no creative outlet to share what I had worked so hard to achieve for myself. As someone who naturally liked performing and storytelling, it only made sense to start telling stories about living in Korea,” Max said.
Although a career as an influencer or content creator is a fairly new concept, it has rapidly climbed up the rankings of childhood dream jobs around the world. One of the things Max loves about being a content creator is that all of his time is his own.
“I was always either a student or teacher here, and I always had obligations to other people. Now, the ability to travel Korea and experience it through my terms, and my terms only, is something really exciting and special.”
“At the same time, it can be really tricky to be your own boss, because the only standards that you have to meet are your own," Max said, adding, "At best it can be a good challenge, and at worst it can be really toxic, because you’re writing your own rules and sometimes that’s not the healthiest experience."
Max highlights the importance of taking time off, as the job comes with a lot of pressure to churn out quality content at a very fast pace, which leaves many young creators struggling with mental health and burnout.
For more insights into the life of an influencer, Max’s views on the LGBTQ+ community in Korea and more, watch the full interview of Max on The Korea Herald YouTube channel.