[Hallyupedia] Kimjang (김장)

나확진 / 인턴 차민경 / 2021-12-12 08:00:04
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by Ra Hwak Jin / Cha Min Kyung


[ENG] Kimjang (also spelled gimjang) refers to Korea's annual practice of making and sharing kimchi before winter 


▲ This photo, provided by Seo Kyung-duk, a professor at Sungshin Women's University, shows Kimchi(PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (YONHAP)


Every year, people make kimchi during autumn for three to four months ahead of the winter season when it is difficult to obtain vegetables in Korea. This annual practice is called 'kimjang' and kimchi made from the tradition is called 'kimjang kimchi.'

The main ingredients needed for kimjang are cabbage and radish along with Minari, mustard greens, garlic, green onions, and ginger as the side ingredients. For seasoning, salt, 'jeotgal' or salted seafood, and red pepper powder are needed. 

Since ancient times, kimchi was considered a winter staple and kimjang has been an essential practice in any household in any region to prepare for the long cold season. Kimjang season generally starts from late autumn to early winter. In order for kimjang kimchi to be properly fermented, it should be stored and maintained at a low temperature of around 5°C. Traditionally, kimchi is placed separately in earthenware jars in the ground and covered with straw mats. 

The custom of covering the jars with straw mats are to prevent the contents from freezing, but also serves the purpose of reproducing microorganisms necessary to help preserve kimchi. 

Today, in Korea, refrigerators made exclusively for storing kimchi are available for purchase. These specific refrigerators are installed in most households because it helps preserve kimchi but also prevents strong odors of kimchi tainting other products in regular refrigerators. 


◇ Kimjang listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity 

▲ This photo, taken on Dec. 2, 2021, shows people making kimchi at Jogyesa temple. (Yonhap)

Kimjang is designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. In December 2013, the eighth session of the Intergovernmental Committee, which took place at Baku, Azerbaiijan, decided to inscribe the tradition as "Kimjang, Making and Sharing Kimchi in the Republic of Korea."

Kimjang is Korea's 16th UNESCO Intangible Heritage Site after Jongmyo Jeryeak, Pansori (Korean music), and the Gangneung Danoje Festival.


"Transmitted through generations in everyday family life, Kimjang allows Koreans to practice the spirit of sharing among neighbors, while promoting solidarity and providing them a sense of identity and belonging," the Intangible Heritage Committee said. 


The committee praised kimjang as an "inspirational model" in understanding and explaining the nature of intangible cultural heritages.


In 2017, the Cultural Heritage Administration designated "Kimchi Making" or "Kimchi Damgeugi" in Korean, as Korea's National Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Cultural Heritage Administration acknowledged that kimchi making was a "time-honored cultural tradition" in Korea and "the practice of kimchi making is an indispensible element of Korean culture and embodies a spirit of collaboration and sharing."  


◇ Kimjang considered as essential event at global Hallyu festivals 

▲ A group of overseas visitors takes part in "kimjang," a traditional Korean gathering in which kimchi, or spicy fermented Korean cabbage, is prepared for the winter, at the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul on Nov. 19, 2021, during a cultural event to understand how Korean people make preparations for the coming winter. (Yonhap)


Kimjang is a common event held during Hallyu festivals at Korean cultural centers around the world. This is because kimchi is Korea's representative food and can be made by anyone without special skills. 


This year alone, the Korean Cultural Center in Mexico City held a kimchi festival on Nov. 29 to demonstrate the full kimchi-making process for all locals. Although mixing seasonings and cutting radishes seemed to be chaotic at first, in the end, everyone was able to take home a completed dish utilizing kimchi. 


▲ This photo, taken on Nov. 29, 2021, shows contestants in Mexico City layering seasoning on cabbages to make kimchi. (Yonhap)


▲ Contestants pose for a photo with their dishes utilizing kimchi as they take part in a cooking competition during a festival celebrating the traditional Korean fermented vegetable dish, organized by the Korean Cultural Center, in Mexico City on Nov. 28, 2021. (Yonhap)


Many New Yorkers also had the time to experience the kimjang process during the 2021 Korean Festival hosted by the Korean American Association of Greater New York at Union Square in October.  in October.


◇ Monsta X's Minhyuk and Hyungwon participate in raising awareness for kimjang 

▲ This photo, captured from YouTube, shows Monsta X's Minhyuk (L) and Hyungwon (R) narrating a video on kimchi. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


Recently, members Minhyuk and Hyungwon of K-pop boy group MONSTA X, narrated a YouTube video on kimjang, titled "Kimchi Universe #3" (youtu.be/ljJFWmk5ZQE), organized by Seo Kyung-duk, a professor at Sungshin Women's University.

"We hope this will help introduce and promote Korean kimchi to the world," Minhyuk and Hyungwon said. "We're happy to do something meaningful together."

In the video, Monsta X's two members introduce the historical background of how kimchi officially became known to the world through the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the fact that Korea's kimchi culture was registered as an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.

Additionally, Minhyuk and Hyungwon talk about kimchi quesadilla (corn buckwheat crepe with cheese and kimchi) introduced in Mexico, kimchi ice cream presented at the 2018 2018 North Korea-United States Singapore Summit, and how California's legislature has passed the bill to celebrate November 22 as "Kimchi Day" every year. 




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