What first comes to your mind when you think of South Korea? Many Gen-Zs would respond with Korean Idol groups or celebrities due to their connection with K-music, K-dramas, and K-movies. Alongside the rise in popularity of K-pop and K-dramas, many individuals have become extremely interested in Korean food recently. Kimchi, for example, has been a trending food in media across nations.
Have you ever tried a delicious side dish called kimchi? Kimchi can be a main dish or a side dish. or even a condiment in Korean cuisine. Kimchi is a traditional ‘banchan,’ meaning side dish in Korean, which is made from fermented cabbages, radishes, and other vegetables. Depending on which ingredients one uses, it can be spicy, sour, or tangy. It is, in fact, no exaggeration to say that kimchi is served at every meal in South Korea. According to the World Institute of Kimchi, most Koreans believe that rice gives energy and power. To maximize the taste, many Koreans like to serve their rice with kimchi, providing the best flavor and vitality simultaneously. With the support of the World Institute of Kimchi, a recognized leading global institute of fermented foods, kimchi was protected as a national Korean food with thorough research and numerous studies. This institute is in Gwangju, South Korea, established in 2010, which successfully increased the expansion of kimchi into the global markets. Additionally, it leads the ongoing developing efforts to develop high-quality kimchi manufacturing technology for required ingredients, storage, hygiene, etc.
Furthermore, to celebrate Korea’s proud cultural food, the Kimchi Association of Korea designated November 22 as National Kimchi Day by the Kimchi Industry Promotion Act in February 2020. Moreover, Washington D.C. and the states of New York, Virginia, California, Michigan, Georgia, Texas, and Maryland in the United States have proclaimed November 22 as Kimchi Day. Many official state-level representatives agreed with New York State Assembly representative Ron Kim who stated that Kimchi provides an elevated sense of identity and culture, in addition to providing special pride in their nation, South Korea, for Korean nationals and those with Korean heritage. Also in April 2023, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and Korean Culture Information Service reported that Hawaii proposed a bill to set Kimchi Day as a national day as well. Moreover, in July 2023, Argentina designated Kimchi Day as a national day.
Now, you might wonder why the date was designated in the month of November, but if you already know that many Korean households make kimchi around this time of the year, you are correct. Continuing the tradition of kimchi-making from the past, the ideal time to make kimchi was the second to the fourth week of November, before the freezing weather started. This one-time yearly event is called Kimjang, which defines the process of making and preserving enormous quantities of kimchi for every household before winter. Traditionally, Koreans stored their kimchi from Kimjang in large jars called Jangdok and placed them outside in their yards to keep it for the long term and maintain its freshness. Despite some households that continue to use Jangdok, many Korean families utilize Kimchi refrigerators nowadays to keep it at the most favorable temperature.
Additionally, South Korea will be celebrating its fourth year of Kimchi Day this year in 2023, including various kimchi events for residents and foreign individuals to experience the Korean culture of Kimjang. According to the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation, the Kimjang Scientific-Cultural UNESCOs Conference will be held on National Kimchi Day, November 22, at the Seoul aT Center Grand Hall. To learn more about kimchi’s culture and entertaining episodes from celebrity guests, this program is recommended to watch! Overall, national Kimchi Day would be great to remember as we Koreans take high pride in our soul food, kimchi, providing great probiotics with savory and nutrition.