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13 Interesting Facts About Kimchi

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Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and Korean radish. With a history spanning several millennia, kimchi is deeply ingrained in Korean culture and cuisine.

Beyond just being delicious, kimchi is also revered for its health benefits. The fermentation process boosts the nutritional content and adds healthy probiotics. No wonder kimchi is gaining popularity worldwide!

Here are 13 fascinating facts about this iconic Korean dish:

Interesting Facts About Kimchi

Facts About Kimchi

  1. Kimchi dates back over 1,000 years. The first recorded mentions of kimchi come from around the 7th century CE. In the centuries that followed, many texts referenced kimchi recipes and methods. Archaeological evidence also suggests fermented vegetable dishes existed in Korea as early as 3000 BCE.
  2. There are over 200 varieties of kimchi. While napa cabbage is the most common main ingredient, kimchi can be made from various vegetables like radish, green onions, cucumber, eggplant, chives and more. The seasonings also vary widely between regions. Some popular types include bossam kimchi (wrapped in pork) and yeolmu kimchi (young summer radish).
  3. Kimchi is packed with healthy probiotics. The lactic acid bacteria created during fermentation are probiotics that benefit digestion and overall health. Studies link kimchi consumption to improved immune function, cholesterol levels, and inflammation. The fiber-rich vegetables also nourish good gut bacteria.
  4. It can keep for several years. Properly stored kimchi can remain edible for over 3 years! The combination of salting, fermentation, and anaerobic conditions allows it to keep for extended periods without refrigeration. Even after opening, kimchi keeps refrigerated for months.
  5. Kimchi doesn’t always contain chile peppers. Modern kimchi nearly always has some type of chile pepper for spice. But historical recipes often lacked peppers, which weren’t introduced to Korea until the late 16th century by Portuguese traders. Without peppers, other flavorings like garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and salted seafood were used.
  6. South Koreans consume over 2 million tons per year! Kimchi is eaten at almost every Korean meal. The average South Korean person eats about 40 pounds of it per year! Overall, South Koreans go through over 2 million tons of kimchi annually.
  7. There is a museum dedicated to kimchi. The Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul has exhibits on kimchi history, processing methods, and culture. You can view diverse types of kimchi from different eras and regions. They even offer kimchi-making courses using traditional techniques.
  8. Kimchi has been to space! Korea’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, brought specially packaged kimchi on her 12-day mission to the International Space Station in 2008. Space kimchi is now a standard food item for Korean astronauts.
  9. Climate change threatens kimchi ingredients. Rising temperatures make it harder for Korean farmers to grow napa cabbage and radishes during the winter. This led to a series of “kimchi crises” with soaring cabbage prices. Scientists are now working to develop heat-resistant vegetable varieties for kimchi-making.
  10. There are competitions for making and eating kimchi. Annual kimchi festivals in Korea feature events like speed kimchi preparation contests and even kimchi eating championships. The current world record for eating a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of baechu kimchi is held by a Korean man who did it in 5 minutes and 28 seconds!
  11. The global market is over $5 billion. As Korean cuisine spreads internationally so does kimchi. The global kimchi market is expected to keep rapidly growing. Exports of Korean kimchi alone are worth almost $150 million per year.
  12. There are controversies over its origin. Japanese and Chinese researchers have claimed that kimchi originated from their own traditional pickled vegetables. This caused the so-called “kimchi wars” over cultural ownership. Most experts still agree kimchi itself developed uniquely in Korea.
  13. You can make kimchi at home! While authentic kimchi takes some practice, you can easily experiment with quick homemade versions using readily available ingredients. Play around with vegetables, seasonings, and fermentation times to customize flavors you love.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kimchi

Interesting Facts About Kimchi

1. What is kimchi and why is it so important in Korean cuisine?

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, primarily napa cabbage and Korean radish. It’s essential to Korean cuisine due to its historical roots, health benefits, and its presence in almost every Korean meal.

2. Are there different types of kimchi?

Yes, there are over 200 varieties of kimchi. The ingredients and seasonings can vary significantly by region, leading to a wide range of flavors and styles, such as bossam kimchi and yeolmu kimchi.

3. How long can kimchi be stored?

Properly stored kimchi can last for several years. The fermentation process allows it to remain edible over long periods and once opened, it can still be refrigerated for several months without spoiling.

4. Does all kimchi contain chile peppers?

Not all kimchi contains chile peppers. This ingredient was only introduced to Korea in the late 16th century, meaning historical recipes often used other seasonings like garlic, ginger, and fish sauce.

5. Can I make my own kimchi at home?

Absolutely! While traditional kimchi has a specific preparation method, you can try making quick homemade versions with a variety of vegetables, seasonings, and desired fermentation times to create a flavor you enjoy.


With its long, rich history intertwined with Korean culture and identity, kimchi has earned its place as a revered national dish. Its growing popularity worldwide is a testament to kimchi’s versatile appeal. Both delicious and nutritious, kimchi offers tempting flavors and health benefits that everyone can appreciate!

So next time you’re exploring Korean cuisine, don’t forget to add some kimchi to your plate. You just may discover a new favorite food.

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