[HOT LINKS] The Kimchi Crisis in Korea

March 24, 2014

According to the World Institute of Kimchi, South Korea’s kimchi exports were worth $89.2m in 2013, down 16% on the previous year. But imports – almost all of which come from China – rose almost 6% to $117.4m. (Korea Times file)

[The Guardian] Once valued as a source of vitamin C before the arrival of refrigerators, kimchi now crops up on menus far from its birthplace on the Korean peninsula. The spicy, garlicky cabbage dish is to be found as a pizza topping and taco filling in the UK, Australia and the US, where the Obamas are said to be converts. Kimjang, the traditionally communal act of making kimchi, was recently awarded world cultural heritage status by Unesco.

But despite its growing popularity in restaurants from Los Angeles to London, South Korea’s national dish is in crisis in its country of origin. To kimchi’s basic ingredients of napa cabbage, garlic, seasoning and copious amounts of chilli power, we can now add a trade war with China and fears of lasting damage to Korean cultural identity.

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