Kimchi, More than a Traditional Food

Kimchi (김치) is a symbol of Korea and very famous around the world. In Korea, kimchi is one kind of a side dish. You can see kimchi in every Korean restaurant, even western food restaurants. Actually, I didn’t like kimchi very much before I came to Korea. However, I get used to it now and enjoy it very much. Last Saturday, I participated in a community volunteer work that we need to make kimchi by ourselves. I will introduce this activity to you later. Now, I think I should introduce the history of kimchi to you which can help you know more about Korean culture.


History of Kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. In traditional preparations, kimchi was stored underground in jars to keep cool during the summer months and unfrozen during the winter months.

Kimchi is known to have originated during the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The term ji was used until the pre-modern terms chimchae, dimchae, and timchae were adopted in the period of the three kingdoms of Korea. In this period, kimchi was spread widely. The word then was modified intio jimchi, and is currently kimchi (Source: Wikipedia).

Red chili pepper flakes are now used as the main ingredient for the flavor and heat for many varieties of kimchi. In the 12th century, other spices, creating flavors like sweet and sour, were added. Now the most common seasonings include brine, scallions, spices, ginger,chopped radish, garlic and so on (Source: Wikipedia).


Volunteer Work Making Kimchi

In late fall, many Koreans make a large amount of kimchi to eat during the cold winter, and this is called “kimjang kimchi (김장 김치).” Therefore, you can see many kimchi festivals during fall season. The reason why I chose to attend this volunteer work is that I wanted to learn more Korean traditional culture. When you visit the kimchi festival, you are just a visitor. When you make kimchi with Korean, you are probably Korean.

Making kimchi is very tiring but interesting. That day, we had 16 teams to make kimchi, including community team, foreign students’ team. I was in the 15th team. After a short ceremony, we started to make kimchi.


The Ceremony

Each team had an aunt who taught us how to make kimchi. One of my teammate told me this was not the first time for her making kimchi. In fact, many Korean girls help their mothers make kimchi at home.

We first placed the cabbages around the table and put the seasonings in the middle of the table. The aunt told us we need to put the seasonings into the cabbages layer by layer, not too much or too little.


It was very cold and windy. My legs seemed to be frozen. However, I was very happy because I thought I knew Korean more than before. After one hour hard work, we finished the volunteer work. Later, we had lunch together.


These were the dishes. I can’t imagine we could eat kimchi made by ourselves so fast. It was another taste compared to the usual one. Additionally, the first snow showed up in that day. It made this experience become more remarkable.


Feeling to Share

Although this activity was a small event, I still learned the love from making kimchi. Kimchi contains love for family and friends. kimchi is more than food. When you make kimchi with your friends, you feel warmer, even in a cold day.




Kimchi Festivals

At last, I just briefly tell you that if you want to know more about kimchi, I strongly recommend you to attend the kimchi festival. Usually, this festival will last for 3 days in November. This year, the Seoul Kimchi Festival lasted from Nov.4th to Nov.6th. It is only held in fall because it is the season to make kimchi. You can get more information on or Korea Official Tourism website Since the kimchi festival for this year was ended, you can look forward to next year kimchi festival.


Article by Jessica from China

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