China tries to appropriate one of its specialties, South Korea grumbles

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In South Korea, we don’t mess around with kimchi. The traditional preparation of this dish, made up of seasoned and fermented peppers and vegetables, has been on Unesco’s representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity since 2015. “The tradition of making kimchi has hundreds of variations. (…) Although differences in local climatic conditions and family preferences and customs lead to variations in ingredients and recipes, the preparation of kimchi is a common custom throughout the country ” read on the website of the UN institution.

This dish has been at the center of cultural tensions between South Korea and China for a few days, reports the BBC. In question, false information relayed by the Chinese authorities in the media. Beijing said it has obtained certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for its kimchi-making process. But Seoul has stepped up to the plate, explaining that this certification only concerned pao cai, another type of pickled vegetable consumed in China, which “has nothing to do with kimchi,” said The Korea Herald. The media specified that the ISO list clearly states that “this document does not apply to kimchi”.

Soul food

On social networks, the tone rose between Chinese and South Korean internet users after Beijing’s claims, explains the South Morning China Post. “It’s total nonsense, this thief is stealing our culture! », Wrote a South Korean internet user on Naver.com. The South Korean media seized on this controversy, pushing the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to clarify things in this matter. On the Chinese side, silence has since been required.

It must be said that the South Korean ministry made a strong case, issuing a statement stating that international standards for kimchi (ingredients, food additive labeling and product name) had been approved by the UN as early as 2001. Many media have denounced a cultural appropriation of China, while kimchi is considered “food for the soul” in South Korea, in addition to being linked to “the identity of the nation”, exposes The Korea Herald. The response should not be long in coming from Seoul. The South Korean authorities are said to be determined to promote kimchi at home and abroad, including conducting academic research on its health benefits.

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