Social media users in China and South Korea are involved in another row, this time because of the provenance of kimchi, the fermented cabbage dish most people recognize as a staple of the Korean diet.
Not, however, in China, where state media sparked an online backlash after one of the country’s fermented dishes received certification from the ISO – International Organization for Standardization.
The ISO status, according to the Global Times newspaper, was an “international standard for the Chinese-led kimchi industry.”
The very mention of the word kimchi sparked angry accusations among South Koreans that China was trying to claim kimchi as its own, when in fact the price only covered pao cai – a type of pickled vegetable often found. in Sichuan cuisine.
“It’s total nonsense, what a thief is stealing our culture! A South Korean internet user wrote about Naver, a popular web portal.
Kim Seol-ha, a resident of Seoul, said, “I read an article in the media that China now says kimchi is theirs and is making it an international standard. It’s absurd. “
Some South Korean media have said that China’s brazen lust for kimchi amounts to an “attempt at world domination.”
The kimchi setback is the latest online dispute between social media users in China and South Korea. In October, the frontman of K-pop phenomenon BTS faced a barrage of criticism in China after citing his country’s solidarity with the United States stemming from the Korean War – a conflict in which China fought in the United States. sides of North Korea.
The popular Blackpink girl group was shown at a zoo in their native South Korea holding a baby panda on loan to China last month, accusing them of risking harm to the animal’s health.
Even South Korea’s agriculture ministry was pressured to comment on the latest culture shock, issuing a statement saying the ISO-approved standard “had nothing to do with kimchi.”
“It is inappropriate to report (ISO winning pao cai) without differentiating between kimchi and Sichuan pao cai,” the ministry added.
Chinese netizens have said they have every right to claim the dish as their own, as much of the kimchi consumed in South Korea – where people eat around 2 million tonnes a year – comes from China.
“Well if you don’t meet the standard then you are not kimchi,” one wrote on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Another said, “Even the pronunciation of kimchi was from Chinese, what else can I say.”
Like K-pop, kimchi has benefited from the Hallyu wave of interest in Korean culture and now has legions of fans outside of the South, where it comes in dozens of varieties and accompanies almost any meal.
The UN seems to agree that kimchi is South Korean, Unesco adding Kimjang – the community act of making kimchi – to its list of intangible cultural heritage in 2013.
The body said at the time that kimjang “is an essential part of Korean meals, transcending class and regional differences. The collective practice of kimjang reaffirms the Korean identity and constitutes an excellent opportunity to strengthen family cooperation ”.