[FOUNTAIN]End kimchi war“There is no sincerer love than the love for food,” said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. If your object of affection is kimchi, you must be Korean. The Dongyi-zhuan of the Book of Wei in the “Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms,” is generally considered the first written record about kimchi. According to the Chinese text, the people of Goguryeo ate vegetables, used salt on food and were good at making pickles. It is inferred that during this period, Koreans made kimchi by pickling turnips, leeks and other vegetables.
The Chinese character for Kimchi, jeo, first appears in the “History of Goryeo.” During the Goryeo period, kimchi developed from simple pickles to Dongchimi, liquid kimchi made with radish, and Nabak kimchi, radish and cabbage pickled in water. Kimchi was no longer simply pickles with salt but was seasoned with scallions, garlic and other spices. After hot peppers were introduced to Korea in the Joseon period and cabbage cultivation began in earnest, kimchi began developing rapidly. Various kinds of salted fish were used to add flavor, and animal ingredients were used with vegetables. The two-step preparation process of salting and seasoning was developed as well.
Koreans used to call Kimchi ji or jeo. Ji means to soak in water. Ji is still used in mukeun ji, meaning stale kimchi. Chimchae, the Chinese characters for salt-pickled vegetable, was pronounced timchae, and then the pronunciation changed to dimchae, jimchae, gimchae and then to kimchi.
Chinese people call kimchi pao tsai. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, Korean pao tsai became very popular in China. There was a rumor that Koreans never contracted the disease thanks to kimchi. Korean television drama series also helped the kimchi boom as the traditional dish was often featured. In the drama series “Sorry, I love you,” the leading male character confesses his love for the leading lady by asking if she could make kimchi for him, and young Chinese fans went crazy over the romantic line.
A kimchi war has broken out between Korea and China. The Chinese-made kimchi allegedly contains lead, and parasite eggs were found as well. Taiwanese media reported powdered red bricks were added to color Chinese kimchi. The kimchi war has to end immediately.
“I knew if I stayed around long enough, something like this would happen,” reads the epitaph of Mr. Shaw, who passed away at the age of 94 in 1950. If we stay around too long without doing something about the kimchi war, internationally acclaimed kimchi might become an internationally detested food.
by You Sang-chul
The writer is the Asia news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.