South Korea’s famous Kimchi pits country’s economy against China. Here’s how

South Korea’s Kimchi, a uniquely sour, salty and umami flavoured dish of fermented vegetables, has hurt the country’s economy last year, data from Korea Customs Service showed. South Korea imported record Kimchi-related ingredients even as inflation upped the prices of cabbage and related items that give Kimchi its signature pickle-like flavour. 

The total value of imported Kimchi was recorded at $169.4 million last year, showing a spike of more than 20 per cent from 2021, according to data from the Korea Customs Service released Wednesday. 

How much Kimchi did South Korea import?

In terms of volume, South Korea imported 263,434 tonnes of kimchi, a 9.5 per cent increase from 2021 but lower than the level of 281,187 tonnes in 2020.

This implies that South Koreans did not consume record Kimchi. But whatever Kimchi they consumed, it was priced higher than before due to price rise. 

Where does South Korea import Kimchi from?

South Korea imports Kimchi mainly from China. In China, reports say that the price of Kimchi can be as low as up to one-fifth the price of Korea-made Kimchi. 

Kimchi is omnipresent in both North and South Korea’s. It is consumed both as a side and as an ingredient in other dishes like stews. 

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Across South Korea, restaurants and eateries have been long using imported Kimchi. However, amid local price rise, South Koreans upped their imports from China for ingredients used to prepare Kimchi. 

Meanwhile, inflation in South Korea was recorded at an elevated level of 5 per cent in December. This was more than double the target of the South Korean central bank. However, inflation is expected to be eased to 3.6 per cent in 2023.