[Shooting review] Museum Kimchikan


K-Unesco Adventurers Cephas and Amanda took a trip to a museum dedicated to a staple of Korean cuisine: kimchi. Museum Kimchikan, located in Seoul, offers opportunities to learn the origins and significance of kimchi as well as various experiences, such as a cooking class. First opened in 1986, it is one of only eleven food museums recognized by CNN as the world’s best and it is the first museum from Korea to be chosen. Here you can see how focused the adventurers are while making kimchi after learning all about the process and long history of kimjang.


We can now store kimchi in refrigerators, and some households even have a refrigerator dedicated solely to kimchi, but what did people do before this technology? Every autumn, families gathered to create kimchi out of a mixture of veggies and seasonings. It was then placed in traditional clay jars known as jangdok and stored outside on a jangdokdae (terrace). Here you can see the jangdok behind Cephas and Amanda during filming.


Cephas and Amanda walked around the exhibition hall, which included authentic Korean kimchi and other fermented dishes from around the world and a display featuring the ingredients and nutritional value of each dish. The variety of ingredients that can be used to make kimchi is astounding. Everything is, fortunately, readily available at supermarkets. Although the most well-known kimchi is made from napa cabbage, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and chili powder, there are over 300 distinct types of kimchi available, which vary by area. The methods and ingredients used in kimjang are considered an important family tradition.


Kimchi offers a variety of health benefits, but it is best known as a health food due to its high probiotic content. In the museum’s laboratory you can learn about the fermentation technique and use a microscope to examine just how much lactobacillus bacteria kimchi contains with your own eyes. How much do you think there is in one cup of kimchi? Hint: A lot! One cup of kimchi contains about 3.6 billion *CFU of good bacteria. Koreans consume just over 20kg of Kimchi each year on average.


Cephas and Amanda also took a look at the rich history of kimchi. Did you know that in 2013, UNESCO designated kimjang, the traditional practice of creating kimchi and sharing it with others, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity? Kimchi is traditionally prepared in the fall, although the ritual continues all year. Traditionally, households purchase shrimp and other seafood in the spring for salting and fermenting and then purchase sea salt for the brine in the summer. Red chili peppers are dried and ground into powder in the late summer. Late fall is kimjang season, when families produce and exchange large amounts of kimchi in order to ensure that everyone has enough to get through the winter.


During a demonstration by one of the museum’s curators Cephas and Amanda were able to learn everything about the cultural pride around kimjang. According to a 2012 poll by the Cultural Heritage Administration, almost 90% of Koreans make their own kimchi or participate in kimjang. Kimjang is regarded as an essential part of Korean culture, where everyone is welcome regardless of their geographical or social status.


If you’re curious and interested in learning more about kimchi, Korea’s representative cuisine, and the numerous dishes that use it as an ingredient, tune in to the Korea.net YouTube channel on Saturday, November 20th at 8 pm. There will be a live show with kimchi-themed videos focusing on various topics.


*CFU = Colony-forming unit