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Asia Minute: Happy Kimchi Day!

South Korea Kimchi
Ahn Young-joon
Volunteers make kimchi, a traditional pungent vegetable dish, to donate to needy neighbors, at a temple in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. About 200 people made 4,000 packets of kimchi, made primary with cabbage, other vegetables and chili sauce.

In the United States, it's Thanksgiving season, but in Korea, it's time for kimjang.

That's the process of preparing and preserving kimchi— the fermented vegetable dish that seems to come with just about everything in Korean cuisine.

In fact, today is “Kimchi Day”— started three years ago by the South Korean government.

The World Institute of Kimchi says it has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory benefits and can help with everything from improving digestion to reducing cholesterol.

In recent years, the dish has grown in popularity outside Korea.

The country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance says exports of kimchi have doubled in the last five years— reaching roughly $160 million last year.

Even Kimchi Day has become a popular export.

California, Virginia, New York and Washington D.C. have all adopted resolutions recognizing today as Kimchi Day.

National lawmakers have been a bit slower— there will be a kimchi “celebration” on Capitol Hill in two weeks and a resolution has been introduced for national recognition.

But it remains to be seen if a commemoration of Kimchi Day will accompany Washington's current Congressional serving of lame duck.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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