South Korea’s kimchi crisis

Video: Preserving Korea’s Kimchi

You only have to spend a few hours in South Korea to realize how important kimchi is to that nation’s identity. No meal–from breakfast on–is complete without some form of this fermented dish. It comes as a surprise then, as the New York Times reported recently, that there is a kimchi crisis of sorts in Korea. In brief, as in many other industries cheaper Chinese goods have completely overwhelmed local producers, many mom-and-pop outfits selling their homemade kimchi in local street markets (as in the NY Times video above). What is more, the trade is entirely in one direction: while China exports over $100 million-worth of kimchi to South Korea, it only imports a minuscule $16,000 from the country of it’s origin! This is because China classifies kimchi as a pickled good which, because of the high bacterial content, violates it’s hygiene standards. Moreover, most of the basic ingredients that go into kimchi, from the red chile pepper known as gochugaru to garlic and even cabbage, come from China. Adding to the crisis is South Korea’s rapid industrialization–known as the ‘miracle on the Han River’–as a result of which few young people have the time or interest to make their own kimchi. Even if China opens up its market to Korean kimchi the loss of tradition and knowledge may prove irreversible.

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One Response to “South Korea’s kimchi crisis”

  1. #
    Sophie — December 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    True, mums knows so many different ways to marinate fish in Hunan, to make spicy sauces in Sichuan, to prepares thousands of different stuffings for dumplings in Northern China… yet young generations don’t know/care any of these.

    There’s more in food than young generations realized.
    Geographical+Economy position > Lifestyle > Eating habits > Receipts > Daily meals. Curious to see how many traditions we have lost for the past decades.

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