Love of sharing! Korean culture of making kimchi draws the world’s attention

“Kimchi tastes so good! I love kimchi!”
Tens of excited foreigners gathered in the courtyard to make kimchi with Korean volunteers. At the Suwon Traditional Culture Center, which is surrounded by small and classical traditional Korean houses, the 14th Kimchi-Making Festival to Share Mother’s Love was held by the Intl. WeLoveU Foundation.

It is already the 14th kimchi-making festival to help neighbors get through winter. At this event which was held from 10 a.m. on Nov. 14, Chairwoman of the WeLoveU Foundation Zahng Gil-jah and more than 300 members rolled up their sleeves to make kimchi.

Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah explained the purpose of the event: “Kimchi is very important in Korea for winter food. Every year, we make kimchi with love, and deliver it to our neighbors who are having hard times. We hope that they will cheer up though life is tough since we are with them.” About forty foreigners living in Korea, housewives from multicultural families, and foreign tourists visiting Korea who agreed with the aim of the event, too, participated in this event; it was a good opportunity to let the world know Korean culture of making kimchi for winter.

The members made kimchi wholeheartedly, thinking of neighbors. Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah showed the foreigners, who had never made kimchi before, how to add seasoning to a salted cabbage. When she put a piece of freshly made kimchi in their mouths, they put their thumbs up and said, “It’s delicious.”

Foreigners had a fun time, applying the seasoning to each leaf of salted cabbages though they weren’t experienced. Everybody laughed when they carefully held up the kimchi after seasoning it with serious faces as if they were holding babies. They smiled brightly, saying, “Kimchi,” instead of “Cheese.”

Joshua Bury from Seattle, USA, whose father is American and mother is Korean, said that he liked kimchi because his mother and aunt often made kimchi in his childhood. Excited about making kimchi for the first time, he said, “I’m happy to participate in love for neighbors. Today, I realized how much time and effort my mom had to make when she made kimchi in my childhood.” Murrary Whitaker from Denver, USA, delivered a message of cheer, saying, “I learned that Korean kimchi is made with mothers’ love and sacrifice. I hope that those who receive this kimchi will remember that there are still many people who help them.”

American Red Cross USAG Yongsan Station Chair Mitzy Aguilena expressed her gratitude to the Intl. WeLoveU Foundation, saying that she was happy to be invited to a wonderful event to share love with others, saying, “I know that kimchi is a superfood which is nutrient-rich. I was greatly moved by this special event to share kimchi with people who need help before winter comes.”

That day, the members and the foreigners made 7,000 kg of kimchi with warmheartedness, and all the kimchi was packed in each box by 10 kg. This was donated to about 700 households: 300 households in Suwon, 200 households in Seongnam, 100 households in Ansan, and 100 households in Hwaseong. The officials of the social welfare from each city hall who came to receive kimchi expressed appreciation to the members, saying, “We were worried because the price of napa cabbages went up so high this year. Thank you for helping us every year. We will deliver it to our residents in need like senior citizens living alone and single-parent households. This will a big help to them.”

Although rain was forecast all day long, it was partly cloudy and mild throughout the event. As soon as kimchi was made and packed, raindrops started to fall as if they had been waiting for the moment. In the afternoon, Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah and her company delivered freshly made kimchi to neighbors despite occasional rain.

They visited an elderly husband and wife in their 70s, who have put their relative who fell from a stroke on their family register as their foster son despite difficulties; an aged lady who is ill and lives alone in a small room; and an aged gentleman who lives alone and grinds food in the blender as he has no teeth. Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah encouraged them, “I heard this winter will be very cold. Please stay warm and healthy, having kimchi our members made sincerely,” and presented kimchi, rice, side dishes, daily necessities, and heating expenses. Serene smiles spread over wrinkled faces of these elderly beneficiaries as they received love and care contained in kimchi.

Kimchi-making is a culture of helping and sharing. The love of a mother, which is shared through kimchi, delivers happiness and hope for life to our neighbors, and cultures of volunteer services and sharing to the world.