Korea celebrates as kimchi becomes part of the world's heritage
by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The decision was taken at the UNESCO general assembly. The Korean dish is thus added to humanity's 'Intangible Cultural Heritage' because it has "voluntarily" been passed through the generations and represents the communal spirit of Koreans in winter, solidifying their Korean identity.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Kimjang, the winter-time tradition of making and sharing of kimchi, was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

According to the UN body, kimjang is "voluntarily" been passed through the generations and represents the communal spirit of Koreans in winter. In doing so, it has solidified their Korean identity.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage made the decision during the UNESCO general assembly at Baku, Azerbaijan, on 2-7 December.

"Kimjang" is the process of preparing large vats of spiced and fermented cabbage and other vegetables before the start of winter and storing the kimchi vats underground for fermentation.

It has long been an essential part of preparing for the long winter when fresh vegetables are not readily available, usually done in a large gathering of family, friends or community members.

"Kimjang involves preserving different kimchi-making processes and the flavourings of different families. It also shows the 'jeong' spirit of affection and caring, something that the Korean communities have preserved for a long time," said Park Sang-mi, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.

According to the Cultural Heritage Administration's 2011 survey, about 95 per cent of Koreans eat kimchi more than once a day and 64 per cent prefer kimchi with all three meals of the day. It also showed that 80 per cent of Koreans make kimchi themselves or participate in the kimchi-making process in various ways.