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In Korea, a king's table may be set with delicacies from land and sea, but without a bowl of kimchi, no Korean, king or commoner, will be satisfied. Despite the Westernization of Korean society, where most men go to work in white dress shirts and neckties, few adults can live without kimchi at every meal.
Kimchi has a long history. In a poem, Yi Kyu-bo (1168-1241), a distinguished man of letters during the Koryo Dynasty, wrote of radishes pickled in salt for the winter months. Clearly, kimchi existed by the latter part of the Koryo period. The spicy kimchi enjoyed today is believed to have originated in the 1700s when red chili peppers were introduced to Korea. Various regional varieties soon developed, including the white kimchi of P'yong-an Province, which uses no red pepper powder, and the whole cabbage kimchi flavored with bright red peppers and savory chotkal, fermented fish paste, which is enjoyed in the southern provinces.
Kimchi is a fermented food requiring maturation. The unique tangy taste comes from fermentation at low temperatures. In traditional society, large earthenware jars of kimchi were buried in the ground, with only the tops exposed, during the winter months. Fermentation was enhanced by the even temperature and heat emanating from the ground. In this sense, kimchi represents the Korean philosophy that heaven, earth and humanity are one.

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