South Korea kimchi deficit fact of the day

If you are going to worry about bilateral deficits, here is one to keep you up at night:

According to South Korea’s World Institute of Kimchi, 89.9 percent of the kimchi purchased by South Korean restaurants in 2016 was imported from China.

The kimchi trade first went into deficit in 2006, triggering soul-searching and a headline-grabbing scandal…

South Korea imported more than 275,000 tonnes of kimchi last year, 99 percent of it from China, the Korea Customs Service (KCS) said, and exported just more than 24,000 tonnes.

The deficit stood at US$47.3 million by value, up 11 percent year-on-year and the largest since the KCS began tracking the data in 2000.

Price is a major factor in the trade, with imports costing just US$0.50 per kilogram in 2016, according to Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp, while exports — primarily destined for Japan — averaged US$3.36 per kilogram…

UNESCO inscribed South Korean kimchi on its intangible cultural heritage list in 2013, saying: “It forms an essential part of Korean meals, transcending class and regional differences.”

Here is the full article, via the excellent Mark Thorson.


Fermented cabbage, that's what South Koreans eat instead of broccoli, the former linked to stomach cancer and the latter linked to the absence of stomach and colon cancer. Someone needs to tell the South Koreans to consider shredded broccoli. Fermented cabbage would could me up at night.

On the other hand, the South Koreans have the highest stomach cancer survival rate in the world. Since all regular kimchi eaters (and thus most Koreans) are at higher risk of stomach cancer, they aggressively screen for stomach cancer over there and catch it early.

Stomach Cancer is almost always fatal if treatment begins only after symptoms have started.

Wow, is this true?! Never heard it before. Does sauerkraut count as a cancer causing food too?

My guess is yes, sauerkraut probably causes stomach cancer too. Japanese eat a lot of pickled vegetables (though not kimchi AFAIK) and also have high rates of stomach cancer.

On the positive side, as others have noted kimchi and sauerkraut have a ton of nutrients. In the days before frozen food or even refrigeration those pickled vegetables were a way of preserving much of the nutrition of fresh vegetables through the winter into spring.

And the Japanese have very high life expectancies, stomach cancer or no.

It's like doing an exercise such as running. If you run lots of miles throughout your life, you'll accumulate injuries and maybe even long-term damage to your knees and hips and spine. But you'll still be better off than the couch potato who won't get those exercise-induced injuries but will suffer from a body that deteriorates even more rapidly.

Or for that matter vaccines, you'll be better off on average but some people will suffer side effects.

So kimchi and sauerkraut are good foods to eat, but pretty much everything we eat or do has a downside.

The interesting question is, now that we have year-round access to fresh food, would the Koreans be healthier if they ate broccoli as suggested instead of kimchi? Less stomach cancer risk -- but kimchi might provide some nutrients that broccoli and other unfermented vegetables do not.

Korea is not even near the highest rate of stomach cancer deaths.

Sauerkraut is also fermented at a lower salt level than kimchi, and the final product contains less salt (but more acid). Pickling, smoking, and curing food have all been associated with higher rates of stomach cancer, but even today rates of stomach cancer in northern Europe (with lots of pickled, smoked, and cured foods) are not much higher than the world populace, and certainly lower than the Korean or Japanese rates. One other risk factor is the consumption of bracken ferns, which you won't find on the menu in much of the world, but become common ingredients in Korean and Japanese cuisine (although not so much outside of Korea or Japan).

In any case, Helicobacter pylori infection remains the greatest cause of stomach cancer today. If you have ulcers, get that treated.

Korea and Japan's stomach cancer survival rate is 60% for 5 years and the 5 year U.S. survival rate, where screening isn't common, is 30%. Yet the incidence in Korea and Japan is 10 times higher than that of Western counties: Around 45 out of 100,000 versus 5 out of 100,000.

Per the NIH, "health functionality of kimchi, based upon our research and that of other, includes anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion."

It is kind of expensive though .. or maybe that's me. I expect it to be priced more like cabbage and less like wine?

oh oh, faux pas.

i) So say Park, Jeong, and Lee.

2) It is more than likely the spices (Kimchi is very very hot spicy) that contribute to the cancer risk increase.

3) some of those alleged benefits, such as skin health, are speculative.

Dang so I've been getting stomach cancer and ,in all likelihood, eating chinese kimchi this whole time? Wonder if its from The Third Korea (Manchuria?) At least?

No great stagnation:

Although the article is a bit sloppy, the kimchi is not fermented in the refrigerator, it is simply stabilized.

Fermentation takes place at room temperature, but the 35-40 degrees of a typical refrigerator is not cold enough to totally stop fermentation.

Here is a fermented food that might be exotic enough for Professor Cowen:

Lots of Koreans have these fridges, at least in the US. First time I heard of it, at a friend's parents' house, sort of blew my mind that they had a fridge just for kimchi.

For decades, Japan put up import barriers to protect its rice farmers, rice being viewed as a part of their cultural heritage probably in much the same way that the Koreans view kimchi. Japan still has those strict barriers according to wikipedia, but it appears that Koreans are less opposed to eating an imported national staple. OTOH they do have some steep barriers to importing rice too, just not as steep as Japan's.

This is restaurants only. My understanding is that most kimchi consumed at home is either purchased from local producers or actually made at home.

Probably the remaining 10.1% is fancy restaurants, cheaper restaurants being most conscious of cost over quality.

The Chinese totalitarian dragon's stranglehold over the free peoples of the world gets stronger and stronger while a million Muniches are planned. China now openly controls Korean cabbage, American money, Hollywood and openly forces Chinese Christians to worship Xi. And we say nothing.

Say nothing? You never shut up about it, Thiago.

I really don't know what you are talking about. But the point is, we are supposed to give Red China the world on a silver plate in exchange for cheap underwear for us and money for billionaries. It is 1938 again.

I'm talking about the fact that you never stop posting about China's evil quest for world domination. And also how you used to post under the name 'Thiago Ribeiro'.

1) Interesting enough, no one else cares about it. People only cares about how many tickets Hollywood can sell in China by debasing America and how much richer Apple can get by exploring non-unionized workers.
2) I think you are mistaking me for another person.

Well, we can consult the work of Prophet Bandarra. What does he have to say about China?

I really think you are mistaking me for another person or having a public psychotic episode.

Are there many psychotics in Brazil?

OK I amdit it. I was preventrd from posting as Thiago ans as Truth Seeker, so now I use this name.

Stop impersonating me.

Apparently, the Fifty Cent Party has struck again.

It's always a party In Da Club!

Can it be Thago?

Brazil sucks big green donkey dick and lost a war to....paraguay.

That should get a response.

I am NOT Thago! Brazil is a great country that is larger than the Roman empire and Brazil has Never been defeated in a war.

Let them eat Bigos.

Problem there is that kimchi is delicious while bigos is disgusting.

Then you're making it wrong.

Kimchi is a fascist, feudalist food.

According to wiki:

2012 effective ban of Korean kimchi exports to China[edit]
Since 2012, the Chinese government has effectively banned Korean kimchi exports to China through government regulations. Ignoring the standards of Kimchi outlined by the Codex Alimentarius, China defined kimchi as a derivative of one of its own cuisines, called pao cai.[79] However, due to significantly different preparation techniques from pao cai, kimchi has significantly more lactic acid bacteria through its fermentation process, which exceeds China's regulations.[80] Since 2012, commercial exports of Korean kimchi to China has reached zero, the only minor amounts of exports accounting for Korean kimchi exhibition events held in China.[79]

Well perhaps outside Korea -- or perhaps that region of the world -- but with more than 200 different types of kimchi not all are spicy. If we're worried about spicy let's talk about Thai, some Chinese, some Tex-mex and I suspect some African and Carribbean cusines.

Well that was supposed to be a reply to Thor on point 2 about spicy food.

Isn't the question really how much of the exported kimchi just a pass through with a very high markup?

The kimchi trade first went into deficit in 2006, triggering soul-searching and a headline-grabbing scandal…

More like Seoul-searching, amirite?

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