Dear cabbage [The Economist] (Thank you Amanda P. for the link.)It is unfortunate then for this nation of 50 million that the price of [napa] cabbage, the core ingredient of the most classic form of kimchi—is locked in an inflationary spiral. The price of this humble vegetable has risen over 400% in the past year, with prices doubling in the past two months alone. It is believed that the original cause was bad weather. Whatever brought on the initial shock, hoarding now is exacerbating it.
This has prompted the unthinkable: some restaurants are now charging extra for kimchi. Free kimchi along with one’s meal is practically a basic human right in Korea. So the advent of this new pricing, along with general kimchi shortages, has brought on a bout of national soul-searching, as well as the giving rise to the amusing notion that trench-coated men might soon stalk dark alleyways, whispering “Psst—want some cabbage?”
In response to the soaring price of napa cabbage, President Lee Myoung-Bak of Korea directed the kitchen of the presidential residence that instead of napa cabbage, it should serve kimchi made of "Western" cabbage. (The type that is made into cole slaw in America.) But this populist gesture backfired, as bloggers of Korea quickly pointed out that the price of "Western" cabbage has soared just as much as that of the napa cabbage. Clever bloggers of Korea terms President Lee as "Myeong-toinette," comparing him to Marie Antoinette of the "Let them eat cake" fame.
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