Considering the natural and climatic features, Korean ancestors devised a method to pickle vegetables harvested in autumn so as to eat them for a long time from winter to next spring. It was the kimchi-making method.
In November every year, every family makes kimchi. People call the late autumn just before winter the kimchi-making season. Researcher Kim Kyong Il at the Folklore Institute under the Academy of Social Sciences says:
“Korean ancestors, resourceful and diligent, made fermented foods suited to their appetite and tastes and widely used them for diet from ancient times. While using pickled vegetables for diet, they discovered the fermentation and introduced it purposefully to make fermented food–kimchi. According to ‘Haedongjukji’ and ‘Tongguksesigi’, the historic documents of the feudal Joson dynasty, every family makes kimchi by admixing radish and bok choy with ginger, shallot, garlic, pulverized red pepper and others before storing them under the ground, and it is a great event of the family during a year.”
The kimchi-making custom has been handed down since the ancient times.
Neighbours, relatives or workmates help each other in making kimchi in late autumn, pickling, washing and mixing bok choy with spicy seasonings. They also send kimchi or pungent ingredients they just made to neighbours or relatives or take them to workplace to share them with workmates. They also get others’ advice or boast, sharing delicious kimchi with pleasure. It has become a custom.
A food-making process is done commonly, simultaneously and collectively, deepening harmony and friendship between the people. This is the kimchi-making custom of the Korean nation.
Amid the growing world interest in the Korean kimchi, the traditional kimchi-making custom of the Korean people has been registered as a world intangible cultural heritage in 2015.