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Kimchi shortage: Cabbage crisis of national concern to South Korea

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Lee Pan-nan smiles as she carries subsidized napa cabbages she bought after waiting in line for about four hours at the Shinyoung market in Seoul. (Truth Leem/Reuters)

Kimchi, the favorite cuisine of South Korea, might be off the table this fall. Cabbage shortages in the country have caused a national crisis. Heads of cabbage now cost about $14 a piece as opposed to the earlier price of $4.

"Some restaurants are now charging extra for kimchi. Free kimchi along with one's meal is practically a basic human right in Korea," the Economist reports.

NPR puts the blame on "a freakish combination of cold temperatures in the spring, an extreme heat wave in the summer and torrential rains in September," which caused crops to fail.

"Koreans have taken to jokingly calling the side dish "geum-chi," substituting in the Korean word for gold," CNN reports.

However, the government has said the price will stabilize in time for the annual "kimjang" season in November, when kimchi is traditionally prepared and packed into giant pickling jars and buried in the ground to ferment during winter. The government has begun subsidizing foreign cabbage to lower the costs, though South Koreans have an aversion to imported kimchi.

Although this is a temporary solution, the year's "freakish" weather might not be so freakish in the coming years. David Easterling, chief of the Scientific Services Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climatic Data Center, said a direct effect of climate change will be much more rainfall; the hotter the air, the more moisture it holds.

So, get your kimchi fix while you can.

By Melissa Bell  | October 6, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

Almost no one buries jars of kimchi anymore. It's kind of hard to do that when you live in a 60-story apartment building. These days kimchi is "buried" in specialized refrigerators.

The gist of the posting is correct but it falls short on conveying how concerned the public is with the cabbage shortage. The national news has dedicated at least 15 minutes of coverage to the cabbage crisis every night this week. Cabbage kimchi is THE staple food here; it is present in nearly every meal and every type of dish.

Posted by: Jindokae | October 6, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

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