Kimchi is a representative Korean dish that never fails to be on the tables of Koreans. It is sour and spicy, yet crispy and refreshing, while giving a unique taste that can never be experienced with any other dishes in the world. Most Koreans are so deeply in love with kimchi that they can gulp down a bowl of cooked rice with only kimchi. Kimchi is thus not a simple Korean dish. Rather, with its long history, it has developed its own culture. Recently, it has been introduced to foreign consumers who have an increasing interest in Korean cuisine due to Hallyu (한류, 韓流)―the huge popularity of the Korean popular culture. A few years ago, it drew a lot of attention when Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States, posted on her Twitter feed a picture and the recipe of some kimchi she had made herself. Boosted by the great interest and attention, kimchi is now exported to around 80 countries in the world. A survey of overseas consumers was conducted by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) and related organizations. It showed that even in China (where Korean kimchi has not been exported) dishes made with kimchi are found atop lists of preferred Korean foods that people want to try. Due to Chinese consumers’ interest in kimchi-based Korean dishes, the Chinese government notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this year about a plan to amend hygiene standards for kimchi. The notification indicated that exports of Korean kimchi to China will happen imminently. introduces here the nutritional values and various types of kimchi as well as the Korean dishes made with kimchi.
Kimchi, Selected as One of the World’s Top Five Healthy Foods Kimchi is made with various fresh vegetables and recognized as a healthy food in Korea. When making kimchi, green and yellow vegetables―including napa cabbage, garlic, scallions, and ginger―should be added. Thus, kimchi is rich in the vitamins and dietary fibers helpful for good health. In addition, kimchi contains more than one billion lactic acid bacteria per 1g of kimchi. It is therefore believed to strengthen immunity, diminish cancer, activate the work of the intestines, and prevent aging.
In addition, kimchi is recognized for its nutritional excellence. In 2006, it was selected as one of the world’s top five healthy foods by Health, a world-renowned health magazine.
More than 100 Types of Kimchi including Baechu-kimchi, Kkakdugi, and Chonggak-kimchi Among the various types of kimchi, baechu-kimch (napa cabbage kimchi) is both most widely enjoyed by Koreans and known in countries overseas. It is made with various ingredients including napa cabbage, red pepper powder, garlic, salt, and jeotgal (pickled seafood). The taste of baechu-kimchi varies depending on the proportions of the ingredients, the fermentation method, and other added ingredients.
In addition to baechu-kimchi, there are more than 100 types kimchi is classified into. Still, while non-Koreans prefer baechu-kimchi the most, they also exhibit interest in kkakdugi (diced radish kimchi), chonggak-kimchi (young radish kimchi), and mul-kimchi (water kimchi). Kkakdugi is made with radishes, which are known to purify the blood and help digestion. It is crispy and spicy and offers different charms from baechu-kimchi. It is also easy to eat because it is made with radishes diced into bite-sized cubes. Chonggak-kimchi is made with young radishes. It is made with a greater amount of anchovy jeotgal and red pepper powder. It thus features a spicier and richer taste compared to other types of kimchi. Mul-kimchi contains a lot of water (“mul” means water in English). The most representative type of mul-kimchi is dongchimi (water-based radish kimchi). Dongchimi is made by pouring, over whole salted radishes, salt water boiled and cooled so as not to be too salty. It is eaten mainly in the winter and is accompanied with juk (rice porridge), tteok (rice cake), and steamed sweet potatoes.
Kimjang Culture Recognized by UNESCO In Korea, when early winter approaches, family members and neighbors get together to make kimchi to eat throughout the winter. This is called kimjang (kimchi-making). Kimjang is a big event in which people can share warm hearts as well as helping hands in making kimchi. Around the kimjang season, people help others to make kimchi and exchange kimjang-related information to allow others to learn a new kimjang technique. Through kimjang, people can exchange greetings and catch up on their everyday experiences.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) registered the Korean kimjang culture as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in December 2013. It evaluated the kimjang culture as a heritage of sharing, solidarity, and a sense of identity and belonging among Koreans. It also evaluated that the kimjang culture promotes conversations among communities that have eating habits around using natural ingredients creatively.