Kimchi festival to spice up Seoul

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Six thousand people will be invited to make kimchi in downtown Seoul over the weekend at the fifth Seoul Kimchi Festival. The annual festival will kick off at Seoul Plaza and nearby Mugyo-dong area on Friday through Sunday, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said. People in Korea have traditionally made a large amount of kimchi before winter, so they can eat the fermented cabbage during the cold season when it is hard to get greens. Kimjang, the winter kimchi-making practice where families and neighbors gather to exchange labor and share food, is designated on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

During this year’s festival, 6,000 people will make kimchi with 165 tons of cabbage, with the sessions taking place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on each of the three days, according to the city government. The scale will be up from 2016’s 60 tons and 2017’s 120 tons. On the last day, 3,000 people will make kimchi for a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people making kimchi at one place. The current record was set during 2013’s festival with 2,635 people.  All the kimchi made there will be offered to the underprivileged through the Seoul Council on Social Welfare and food banks in the capital.

Applications to participate in the kimchi-making sessions have closed, but visitors can make their own kimchi at a separate experience zone at Seoul Plaza. Special sessions exclusively for foreigners will also be available on Saturday and Sunday. A large exhibition room will be set up at the plaza where visitors can see 100 types of kimchi from across the Korean Peninsula including North Korea, to be made through consultation with the Kimchi Association of Korea, the World Institute of Kimchi and Baewha Women’s University. Seven kimchi masters will present their special recipes at the Master’s Kimchigan program, while chefs Yu Hyeon-su and Baek Seung-jun will give lectures on more modernized kimchi. A kimchi-making contest will also be held on Friday, where the winner will be awarded “kimchi chef” credit and the Seoul mayor’s award.

A kimchi market will be open on the Mugyo Street from Saturday to Sunday, where people can buy kimchi or kimchi ingredients at lower-than-market prices including salt and red pepper powder. People can send the purchased goods to their homes through delivery service. Food trucks selling kimchi-infused food will be also there. On the first day of the festival, alpine snowboarder Lee Sang-ho will attend the kimchi-making session. His nickname is “cabbage boy” as he got his start in snowboarding on a slope in Gangwon Province that used to be a cabbage patch. “The kimchi festival has been developed as a large charity event,” a city official said. “We’ll make more efforts so kimjang culture can become a new part of hallyu.”

By Kim Rahn

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