Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Critical Kimchi Shortage in Korea

Korea is in a state of mayhem, because of the exorbitant price of cabbage -- which in turn affects the price of kimchi. The Economist blog captures this pitch-perfect:
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?”
Dear cabbage [The Economist] (Thank you Amanda P. for the link.)

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.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.


  1. Just for the record, I haven't been charged yet for kimchi. It has still been coming out for free when I eat out. I suspect, though, that when restaurants have to order their next batch of kimchi, that's when they might start charging...

  2. Yonhap News deliberately deleted the thing about President Lee's comment when it translated the article into Korean.

    Most major media (including Korean Times which although has never been major) in Korea cannot be trusted.


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