Whence came kimchi? Beijing, Seoul spice up dispute | Inquirer Lifestyle
people making kimchi
People learn how to make kimchi from South Korean women in Matsue in January 2018. The Japan News/Asia News Network

Whence came kimchi? Beijing, Seoul spice up dispute

people making kimchi
People learn how to make kimchi from South Korean women in Matsue in January 2018. The Japan News/Asia News Network

BEIJING — The dispute between China and South Korea over the origin of kimchi is heating up.

While South Korea claims to be the home country of kimchi, China is trying to turn the tables on South Korea by asserting that it is a traditional Chinese food.

It all started last November, when the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certified the methods of manufacturing and preserving pao cai, salted fermented vegetables mainly from China’s Sichuan Province. In China, kimchi is considered a type of pao cai. The ISO certification could increase the credibility of pao cai made in China and give it an advantage when exported.

Chinese newspaper the Global Times widely reported that this was a humiliation for South Korea.

In response, South Korean netizens vehemently opposed the Chinese claims, saying authentic kimchi and pao cai are not alike.

In January, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, posted on Twitter a photo of himself with kimchi he made, and a popular Chinese YouTuber released a video of herself making kimchi, calling it a “traditional Chinese dish.”

On Jan. 13, the political and legal affairs committee of the Chinese Communist Party said on social media: “They say kimchi is Korean and sun-dried persimmons are Korean. The reason they complain about everything is because they lack confidence in their own country.”