Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea
Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Country(ies): Republic of Korea
- Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea
Kimchi is the Korean name for preserved vegetables seasoned with spices and fermented seafood. It forms an essential part of Korean meals, transcending class and regional differences. The collective practice of Kimjang reaffirms Korean identity and is an excellent opportunity for strengthening family cooperation. Kimjang is also an important reminder for many Koreans that human communities need to live in harmony with nature. Preparation follows a yearly cycle. In spring, households procure shrimp, anchovy and other seafood for salting and fermenting. In summer, they buy sea salt for the brine. In late summer, red chilli peppers are dried and ground into powder. Late autumn is Kimjang season, when communities collectively make and share large quantities of kimchi to ensure that every household has enough to sustain it through the long, harsh winter. Housewives monitor weather forecasts to determine the most favourable date and temperature for preparing kimchi. Innovative skills and creative ideas are shared and accumulated during the custom of exchanging kimchi among households. There are regional differences, and the specific methods and ingredients used in Kimjang are considered an important family heritage, typically transmitted from a mother-in-law to her newly married daughter-in-law.
Decision 8.COM 8.23
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Transmitted through generations in everyday family life, Kimjang allows Koreans to practise the spirit of sharing among neighbours, while promoting solidarity and providing them a sense of identity and belonging;
- R.2: Inscription of Kimjang could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage by enhancing dialogue among different communities nationally and internationally that practise foodways that similarly make creative use of natural resources;
- R.3: Although Kimjang is spontaneously transmitted within Korean families, measures are proposed to strengthen its safeguarding including formal education in school curricula and adoption of legislative provisions on measures for its promotion, as well as measures to mitigate industrialization of kimchi-making;
- R.4: Korean communities at three different levels – general public, local governments and academia – have participated through surveys in the elaboration of the nomination and have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: After a multi-year process of consultation with communities concerned and civil society organizations, Kimjang was included in 2011 in the State Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage maintained by the Cultural Heritage Administration.
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