Kimchee wars

The popularity of kimch’i in Japan greatly stimulated the South kimch’i processing industry.  Ironically, it was Japanese attempts to capitalize on manufacturing kimch’i that inflamed Korean claims to its ‘ownership’.  This dispute, commonly known as the ‘Kimch’i‘ War…began in 1996 when Japan proposed designating kimuchi (the Japanese pronunciation of kimch’i) an official Atlantic Olympic food.  By then Japanese-Korean trade relations were already under stress due to the fact that Japan had already been involved in exporting the Japanese instant version of kimch’i, which lacked the distinctive flavor from the fermentation process.  In response, South Korea filed a case with the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), pat of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, arguing that there was a need to establish an international kimch’i standard.

That is from Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War: Food in Twentieth Century Korea, by Katarzyna J. Cwiertka.  This is an excellent book on Korean-Japanese relations, the early history of Korean industrialization, and the rise of industrial food, as well as the evolution of Korean food in recent times, all rolled into a scant 237 pp.  A good author can do wonders…


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