Kimchi, a dish for people around the world, delivering mothers’ love

In Ansan, a multicultural city, where more than 10% of its population is foreigners such as foreign workers and immigrated women, a meaningful event was held—Kimchi-Making Festival to Share Mother’s Love. This festival is hosed by the Intl. WeLoveU Foundation every year just before winter comes. Its fifteenth festival was carried out in the morning on November 6 at Ansan Cultural Square.

Around 200 members from the Foundation including Chairwoman Zahng Gil-jah, and about twenty housewives from multicultural families and foreign students participated in this to experience Korea’s kimchi-making culture and share love with neighbors. Some family members of diplomats in Korea from Uzbekistan and Iraq, Mrs. Im Mi-jeong the wife of Ansan Mayor Je Jong-gil, and Representative Min Byeong-gwon of “True Ansan People” a non-governmental organization too participated in the event. Actor Kim Seong-hwan (Goodwill Ambassador of the Foundation), actress Choi Ye-jin, and singers Lee Seung-hun and Yun Tae-gyu who had always been with the Foundation to help our neighbors amde kimchi together despite their busy schedules.

On this day, Chairwoman Zahng said, “Every winter, I get worried about people who are having hard times, thinking how lonely and cold they must be,” and explained the purpose of the event by saying, “Kimchi-making is our members’ way to express their warmheartedness.” Probably because the warm hearts gathered together, it was warm the whole time they were making kimchi. In the early morning, worktables were placed in the square and the ingredients were placed on them; seventeen ingredients were prepared such as cabbages and radishes that the members had harvested a few days before and cleaned and salted, shiny red pepper powder, fresh oysters, squids, and fermented anchovies.

Slightly after ten in the morning, the kimchi-making began in earnest; it was a grand sight as hundreds of people were making kimchi together in the square under the warm sunlight and blue sky. Passersby stopped and showed their interests in the large-scale kimchi-making that they had not seen before. On one corner of the event, panels were set up to explain the history of kimchi, the kimchi-making culture, and this event Kimchi-Making Festival to Share Mother’s Love in Korean, English, and in Chinese.

“I couldn’t handle kimchi at first because it was too spicy, but now I eat kimchi at every meal. But it’s my first time to make it.”

Housewives from multicultural families, who had not made kimchi themselves, enjoyed the event, calling it “an amazing and happy experience.” A Philippine housewife named Marissa who’d been in Korea for seventeen years said, “It was so much fun making kimchi together,” and expressed her appreciation for her mother-in-law for always making kimchi for her. The wife of a ambassador to Korea exclaimed, “I never knew what a fun it is to make kimchi

Chairwoman Zahng showed the officials from foreign embassies and the housewives from multicultural families how to make kimchi, and explained about Korea’s kimchi-making culture. Counselor Ibrahim Khalil from the Iraqi embassy said, “You can see how happy I am just by looking at my face,” and expressed his appreciation to the Foundation for holding the event with good people. Mrs. Lyudmila Fen, wife of Uzbekistan Ambassador, gave a favorable comment on kimchi, saying, “We have a similar dish in my country, but it doesn’t have as many flavors as kimchi does. Korea’s kimchi has a deep and refreshing taste because it has all kinds of vegetables and seafood in it.” Mrs. Im Mi-jeong, wife of the Mayor of Ansan, said, “It was a great opportunity for multicultural families to meet some neighbors and communicate with them by making kimchi together,” and she expressed her wish that everyone would think that we are all one family, through this kimchi-making event.

Kimchi which weighed over 7,000 kg [15,433 lbm], were made in the morning. The kimchi was well-wrapped by 10 kg each and delivered right away to 300 families in Ansan, 200 families in Suwon, 100 families in Siheung, and 100 families in Hwaseong through the relevant department of each city hall. The officials who received the kimchi said, “This tasty kimchi that you made wholeheartedly will give much strength to the children of low-income families, senior citizens living alone, and multicultural families,” and showed their gratitude to the members who work hard every year with the spirit of sharing.

Taking the kimchi they had just made, Chairwoman Zahng visited four multicultural families. Those who welcomed the chairwoman and her company were the wives from Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and Cameroon; they were in Korea for marriage or studying abroad. Chairwoman Zahng comforted them who were living in a foreign country, and asked if their houses were warm enough or if there were any hardships while living in Korea, and gave them a warm hug. She also delivered the kimchi and some expenses for heating, saying, “Winter in Korea is cold. That’s why we make kimchi before winter. We made this kimchi with a sincere heart, so please enjoy it and stay healthy and warm.”

What was delivered to them through the kimchi was a mother’s love. A Bangladeshi housewife, who participated in the event and made kimchi herself, said, “The kimchi tasted so good. I’ve heard that Korean moms make kimchi and give it to their daughters, and that all family members gather together to make kimchi. When I thought about it, it reminded me of my family a lot. I feel so happy and thankful.” A housewife from Cameroon said, “I was so happy and thankful when the chairwoman hugged me and said that she loves me. I feel like I got a new family today in Korea. My mother is in my country, but today here in Korea I feel the mother’s love.”