Seoul's Kimchi Festival Is An Annual Labor Of Love

Though when, exactly, kimchi came into existence is debated, the reason why — the need to keep vegetables during the winter months — is well accepted (via Bon Appétit). With different types of kimchi made in homes throughout Korea (and now the world), this fermented dish is a versatile addition to dishes and meals. From kimchi fried rice recipes to kimchi-filled dumplings, it's no wonder these spicy, seasoned vegetables helped folks get through cold seasons. And now, the annual Seoul Kimchi Festival celebrates the practice of making kimchi before winter hits, a practice known as kimjang (via Seoul Metropolitan Government).

Also spelled gimjang, according to Euronews, has been identified as a world heritage asset by UNESCO, and South Koreans view the preparation as a symbol of the country's unity. It's no wonder gimjang is the big attraction of the festival; Seoul Metropolitan Government reports over 5,000 participants come together to season and prepare more than 50 tons of cabbage. And that's not even the best part.

A dish made with love

Yes, the festival is a celebration of all things kimchi. Participants can season batches of cabbage, learn tips from master chefs, and understand more about the cultural significance of kimchi (via Seoul Metropolitan Government). Local products are sold, and visitors can stock up on necessary kimchi-making goods to last them until the next festival. While this is well and good, the best part of the festival might be the fact that the gimjang kimchi is delivered to families and individuals in need.

"We are holding this kimchi making event to give hope and encouragement to the elderly in need, to those who live alone and to people who are suffering..." one participant told Euronews. It's a touching gesture, and the generous event has been held for decades, with a tradition dating even further. Previous Seoul habitant, Younglan Shin, explained to Gulf News that gimjang kimchi is spicer, more seasoned, and made with fresher ingredients — and is always shared throughout the community. This includes family, elders, and people living alone.

To try making your own version of marinated, spicy cabbage at home, we have a classic homemade recipe you can try; if it comes out well, be sure to share.