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`Kimchi making means sharing with others`
DECEMBER 07, 2013 06:36  
There is a variety in kimchi. Cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi, Korean lettuce kimchi, mustard leaves kimchi and cucumber kimchi are what people are familiar with. But there are unfamiliar ones like coriander kimchi and gourd kimchi. Vegetables such as sweet potato vines, bean sprouts, spinach, eggplant, water parsley, burdock, crown daisy and pumpkin can be used as main ingredients of kimchi. Encyclopedias write that kimchi originates from the Three Kingdoms Period of Korea (A.D. 57-668) and has 200 types in variety.

There are about 30,000 Korean compatriots in Sakhalin, Russia. These people come from various regions. Most of them were transferred to Sakhalin during the Japanese colonial era. But some are those who were forced to leave for Central Asia under the rule of Stalin and came back, and others came from North Korea to work in lumber camps or mines and settled down. In terms of nationality, South Koreans, North Koreans and Korean Chinese are mixed together in the community. 밫hough we changed our names in a Russian style and forgot the Korean language, kimchi and kimchi making are what binds us together and represents our identity. This is cited from 밃 study on kimchi in Sakhalin, a research paper written by Professor Asakura Doshio from Japan뭩 National Museum of Ethnology.

Kimchi in my house also comes from various places. My mother, mother-in-law and sister-in-law made kimchi and sent a few heads to share with me. Thanks to them, I can enjoy various types of kimchi that represent the unique flavor of each region. Kimchi of Gyeongsang provinces is salty. Kimchi of Hwanghae Province is watery and refreshing. Kimchi of Chungcheong provinces is roughly seasoned. Some are rich in croaker and hairtail. The tradition of kimchi making has been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. To make it clear, what is registered is not kimchi, but the culture of making and sharing kimchi, which is called 뱆imjang in Korean.

Traditionally, kimchi making was an important task to prepare food to get through winter for four to five months. Relatives and neighbors get together to make kimchi and share it together. About this time every year, kimchi making events for the underprivileged frequently take place because the culture of making kimchi embraces the spirit of sharing. The UNESCO summarized the culture of "kimjang," which has been passed down through generations in Koreans routine life, is a practice of sharing spirit among neighbors and a medium to enhance people뭩 solidarity, identity and sense of belonging. If we can share not just kimchi but also our hearts, the rigor of winter will be endurable.

Editorial Writer Heo Seung-ho (tigera@donga.com)

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