If you were asked to think of a traditional Korean food, kimchi would most likely come to mind. If you’re unfamiliar with the dish, it’s a fermented, rather spicy, side dish made up of vegetables and various seasonings, and it forms the staple ingredient for hundreds of different Korean dishes. With kimchi valued so highly, it is perhaps no surprise that the Korean government wants to see it classified as intangible cultural heritage.

News of the Korean government’s application to push for kimchi to be registered as a cultural heritage was first covered by Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

Cultural heritages come in many forms and it’s not just historical buildings or famous tourist sites that be registered. Unlike buildings or physical objects, however, kimchi must be treated as an “intangible cultural asset” on account of the dish as concept, rather than a constantly existing physical entity, being put forward for registration. Examples of existing intangible cultural assets include cultural dance, ancient court music, arts and crafts, festivals and the like. In total, there are 20 different classifications to which intangible cultural assets belong.

The result of the Korean government’s application will be announced at the Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee, held in Azerbaijan in December this year. There’s still some time to go, so any kimchi lovers looking for a reason to boast about their favorite food being genuine cultural heritage will just have to hang in there a bit longer.

When making the application, the government also appealed to have “kimjang” registered as cultural property. Kimjang is the name given to a yearly winter tradition wherein Korean people prepare a variety of kimchi to get through the cold winter months.

As a means to encourage further interest and raise the chances of an approved application, specialist foreign media persons are expected to be called to open an international symposium to make kimchi even more appealing to the international market. Will Korea’s beloved pickled vegetables make their way into mankind’s intangible cultural heritage list? Time to stock up on a few pots of kimchi to get us though the waiting process!
[ Read in Japanese ]