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South Korean, Chinese Internet Users Disagree About Kimchi 

Korean style pickled cabbage, or Kimchi, and Chinese style pickled vegetables, or Pao Cai, are seen at a supermarket, in Beijing, China December 1, 2020. (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
South Korean, Chinese Internet Users Disagree About Kimchi
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China’s effort to win an international certification for Pao Cai, a pickled vegetable dish from Sichuan, is turning into a large disagreement on social media.

The disagreement is between Chinese and South Korean internet users. They disagree about the origin of Kimchi, a common Korean food made of cabbage.

China recently won a certification from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for Pao Cai. The state-run Global Times reported the award as “an international standard for the Kimchi industry led by China.”

Pao Cai
Pao Cai

South Koreans quickly disagreed, especially on social media.

“Its total nonsense, what a thief stealing our culture!” a South Korean internet user wrote on

“I read a media story that China now says Kimchi is theirs, and that they are making [an] international standard for it…I’m worried that they might steal Hanbok and other cultural contents, not just Kimchi,” said Kim Seol-ha, a 28-year old in Seoul.

Some South Korean media even described the move by China as a “bid for world domination.”

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo, Chinese internet users were claiming Kimchi as their country’s own traditional dish. Most of the Kimchi eaten in South Korea is made in China.

“Well, if you don’t meet the standard, then you’re not kimchi,” one wrote on Weibo. “Even the pronunciation of kimchi originated from Chinese, what else is there to say,” wrote another.

South Korea’s agriculture ministry on Sunday released a statement saying that the ISO approved standard does not apply to Kimchi.

“It is inappropriate to report (about Pao Cai winning the ISO) without differentiating Kimchi from Pao Cai of China’s Sichuan,” the statement said.

I’m John Russell.

John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Susan Shand was the editor.


Words in This Story

certification – n. official approval to do something professionally or legally; the act of making something official: the act of certifying something

pickled – adj. preserved with salt water or vinegar

standard – n. a level of quality, achievement, etc., that is considered acceptable or desirable

nonsense – n. words or ideas that are foolish or untrue

thief – n. a person who steals something

bid – n. an attempt to win, get, or do something

pronunciation – n. a particular person's way of pronouncing a word or the words of a language

inappropriate – adj. not right or suited for some purpose or situation: not appropriate or suitable

differentiate – v. to make (someone or something) different in some way

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