Food Trends

North Korean kimchi making could be granted UNESCO Heritage status

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish of fermented cabbage and spices.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish of fermented cabbage and spices.  (iStock)

The process of making North Korean kimchi is being considered to receive Intangible Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO, the cultural agency of the United Nations.

Kimchi is a spicy and sour side dish, traditional to Korean communities, made by fermenting vegetables—usually cabbage—with spices including red chili, garlic, and ginger.

“The tradition of Kimchi-making is an essential part in the life of Koreans, which finds its manifestation in every locals and season, and its community includes all Koreans,” UNESCO said in the nomination documents released earlier this month.

"The tradition contributes to social unity and others, since it is practiced in the whole society involving neighborhoods, relatives, villages, organizations and localities as forms of communities. Koreans share experience among themselves to make delicious Kimchi according to season, while helping each other with raw materials and in preparation."

Kimjang, the process by which most South Korean kimchi is made, was granted UNESCO status in 2013. According to the BBC, North Korean kimchi is generally less red and less spicy than kimchi originating in South Korea since fewer chilies—or sometimes none at all—are utilized.

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Kimchi has seen rising popularity in the U.S. as more Americans clamor for spicy foods. Koreans have long considered kimchi a “super food” and more scientific evidence has shed light on the benefits of consuming fermented foods.

UNESCO grants Intangible Cultural Heritage status to practices deemed important to global cultural diversity and those that are seen deserving of protection.

Other food related items up for Unesco UNESCO consideration this year are Namibia’s marula fruit festival and UAE’s preparation of Arabic coffee.