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2016-10 04

[Culture]Kimchi, Korea’s Historical and Conventional Icon

Many will agree that kimchi is Korea's most well-known representative traditional food. Despite the pungent smell—that can be unbearable to a non-Korean—it is receiving extensive love around the world. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi that are made of different types of vegetables. Its variety caters to suit the demands of diverse palates. Throughout the years, kimchi has become an indispensable part of a Korean meal. The outdated name for this indigenous food, chaejeo, comes from Chinese characters which mean fermented vegetable. This popular commodity bears a deep-rooted history and offers substantial health benefits to those consuming them. Tracking Down the Culture It is virtually impossible to state exactly when kimchi first came into the picture, since there are many different kinds of kimchi. The definition of 'kimchi' is ambiguous- any fermented vegetable with seasonings can be kimchi. However, an approximate date, according to a historical record, traces back to 3000 years ago, when chopped cucumber was fermented after being marinated. The “kimchi” we know, the type that is made with cabbage, is known to have originated from the ancient times, even before the era of The Three Kingdoms. The most common type of kimchi we know today became an ideal type in the early 1600s, as pepper was commercialized. Pepper powder, the main seasoning, and Kimchi made with it. In order to preserve food against decomposition, especially during winter, Korean ancestors came up with the means of drying food to prevent rotting. Then a more sophisticated method was discovered, which was fermenting- how kimchi came into the minds of the forebears. They needed to store vegetables for winter when greens cannot be accessed. Initially, kimchi was dipped in salt inside a pottery jar, then buried underground for more thorough fermentation. Having rice as the main staple, carbohydrate was the primary nutrient obtained by Koreans during that time period. To supplement other vitamins, vegetables were highly desirable. By satisfying both conditions of long durability and nutrition, making and storing kimchi became a common practice. Kimchi in pottery pots, buried underground during winter. Kimchi and its Health Benefits To endure the day-to-day industrious lifestyle, people need a good source of fuel for their survival. One sufficient source is, not too surprisingly, kimchi. The dish is made from various vegetables and contains a high level of dietary fiber, while being low in calories. One serving also provides more than half of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C and carotene. Onions, garlic, ginger, chilli peppers are the main ingredients of kimchi (aside from the main body, cabbage cucumber, and radish), all of which are salutary. These vegetables in kimchi also contribute to the overall nutrition value of the dish. Vegetables that serve as ingredients of kimchi, and the final outcome. Health benefits of kimchi can be largely categorized into catalyzing digestion, preventing diseases, increasing immunity, regulating bio-rhythm, and disinfecting the organs. The nutritious constituents of vegetables in kimchi make this work. They boost and smoothen the digestion by allowing the stomach to absorb and decompose the nourishment thoroughly. The low-calorie aspect of kimchi contributes to clearing the blood vessels, leading to a better circulation of blood. Various lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension can also be avoided. Kimchi enables the whole body to maintain good health, which raises immunity and stabilizes bio-rhythm. One health benefit derived from kimchi summon another betterment, and create a chain reaction therein. Jeon Chae-yun chaeyun111@hanyang.ac.kr