Fewer Koreans Make Their Own Kimchi

  • By Kim Sung-yoon

    December 02, 2023 08:16

    Kimchi-making season has arrived, but about half the population say they will not be making their own this year.
    The ideal season for making the fermented side dish is when temperatures hover near freezing or from mid-November to December.
    But when pollster Tillion Pro surveyed 2,507 Koreans, it found that 48.6 percent had no plans to make kimchi this year. Some 31.4 percent said they do make kimchi at home, and 20 percent said they are given it by family members.
    Numbers are dwindling as young people have little stomach for the work involved. Among people in their 60s, the proportion who make kimchi stood at 44.3 percent, but that fell to 30.9 percent among people in their 50s, 29.9 percent in their 40s, 25 percent in their 30s and 26.7 percent among those in their 20s.
    Suh Eun-ah, a 44-year-old housewife living in Seoul, said, "Even my parents and in-laws buy their kimchi instead of making it at home. My mother and mother-in-law are in their mid-70s and say they no longer have the energy to make kimchi. I never made kimchi alone and find it too daunting a task."
    A study by the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corporation last year showed that households that make kimchi dwindled from 56.3 percent in 2017 to 22.6 percent in 2021. A major reason was that people do not eat so much of it any more. Per-capita kimchi consumption fell from 109.9 g in 2010 to 88.3 g in 2020.
    The coronavirus pandemic also had an effect since it kept families apart, and kimchi-making is often a collaborative process.
    But overseas the Korean staple is growing more popular, and exports are expected to reach a record this year. Kimchi exports surged 10.6 percent on-year in the first nine months of this year to US$118.86 million or 8.1 percent in terms of volume to 33,828 tons.
    Kimchi is particularly popular in the U.S. and Europe. Exports to the U.S. surged 41.2 percent to $30.64 million.
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