Warm-hearted South Koreans serve up super-spicy kimchi for a cause

A man carries a box of kimchi during an annual kimchi-making festival in central Seoul on Nov 3, 2017.
A man carries a box of kimchi during an annual kimchi-making festival in central Seoul on Nov 3, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (REUTERS) - Plunging their pink-gloved hands into cartons of cabbages, and slathering the vegetables with a bright-red sauce, more than 2,300 people on Friday (Nov 3) got to grips with making the spicy, fermented Korean staple of kimchi.

About 60 tonnes of kimchi, which is made with salted cabbage doused in a spicy chilli paste, and flavoured with garlic, ginger, fish sauce and fermented seafood, among other things, were prepared on the first day of the Seoul Kimchi Festival.

An acquired taste for foreigners, kimchi is traditionally eaten as a side dish at every meal. South Koreans consumed about 1.85 million tonnes of kimchi in 2016, according to the World Institute of Kimchi.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation added the art of making and sharing of kimchi to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013.

Those taking part in the festival agreed that it was a good learning experience.

"We don't really get much chance to make kimchi usually, so through this opportunity, I have come to understand how much effort our mothers and grandmothers put into making kimchi," said 18-year-old student Jeung Ji Hun.

Organisers aim to make a total of 120 tonnes of kimchi over the three-day event, which will be distributed to needy households across Seoul.

"This kimchi, along with our warm hearts, will be shared with our neighbours in need of help," said festival director Shin Myung Ki.