Korea’s National Dish: Kimchi

Kimchi (김치), the national dish of South Korea, is a name almost synonymous in the country with eating a meal. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a meal is not considered complete without a side of kimchi. For those unfamiliar with this fabulous dish, (let us give you a bit of background,) kimchi is made up of salted fermented vegetables. In its most popular form, it is made of salted fermented napa cabbage, carrots, radish, scallions, and a paste made usually from garlic, chili powder, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce. This popular form is called tongbaechu-kimchi (통배추김치.)

Throughout the county of Korea, there are hundreds of variations of this fermented dish, and the ingredients can vary greatly by region or season.  Kimchi has been around for over 2000 years, but in its humble beginning, it resembled more of a pickled vegetable than the red, spicy version we are used to today. The current form was not invented until the 17th century when chili peppers were introduced by Portuguese traders. Even then they were not widely used in kimchi until the 19th century. Traditionally stored in clay pots buried in the earth called onggi (옹기), the making of kimchi was and still is a time for bonding among family members. Recipes are handed down through families that date generations back. (If you would like to know more about the different types of kimchi click here.)

Although no longer as common to store kimchi in clay earthen pots, it is still customary to get together to make large batches as a family or a community. Traditional kimchi festivals are held in Korea around late October or early November. Historically this was the best time to store it in the buried ceramic pots as the weather turned cold. 

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For me this is a must have experience. So, decided to book Kimchi Making for Foreigners Class at Seoul Kimchi Festival. This year will be held in the early November, you can check the website http://seoulkimchifestival.com/2018/ for the next Kimchi Festival in Seoul. You can book to join at the festival and email if you need special requirements (eg : as muslim, you need a halal and muslim friendly ingredients). It’s held in front of City Hall, so it’s easy to find. @ktoid #kto #ktoid #jelajahkorea #explorekorea #travelkorea #destinasikorea #photochallengektoid #akudankorea #visitkorea #autumn2017 #Seoul #KimchiFestival #SeoulKimchiFestival #한국여행 #가을2017 #서울 #서울김장문화제 #축제 #김장간 #제4회서울김장문화제

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Today a large portion of the Korean population lives in apartments making the usage and burying of onggi difficult. To offset that, the kimchi refrigerator was invented to keep it at the perfect temperature throughout the fermentation and storage process. Kimchi is best fermented at a cool 2 to 7°C (35.6°F to 44.6°F) and stored at 0 to 5°C (32°F to 41°F). It can be eaten at several stages during the fermentation process. For every person, when to eat it is a personal preference. Some prefer it freshly made while others at at different stages in the fermentation process. Whatever the preference keep in mind that the longer kimchi ferments the sourer it becomes.

Apart from being a great tasting dish, kimchi is also known for its health properties. High in vitamins and lactic acid, it is used in diets to maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation in the body, and was even thought to help in the fight against the SARS epidemic. This tasty food is not only eaten as a side dish but also used in other Korean dishes like seafood pancakes or haemul pajeon (해물파전), kimchi stew or kimchi-jjigae (김치 찌개). It’s also a popular flavor for ramen noodles or added to fresh ramen. (If you would like to know more about the many other types of Korean side dishes click here.)

These are only a few of the uses for kimchi which has become a global phenomenon. It has been featured in many global cuisines from toppings on hamburgers, tacos, hot dogs, sandwiches and pizzas to added flavor in fried rice, hummus, and deviled eggs.  

From a restaurant in Florida serving kimchi quesadillas (http://www.chimikimchi.com/) to kimchi covered hot dog in Toronto, Canada (https://fancyfranks.com/), the uses and flavor of this unique dish have caught the attention of the world. However you decide to use it, this amazing dish has multiple applications and looks to be around for many years to come.

The World of Kakao

New platforms have come and gone for the world to connect with one another. Whether it’s through social media or through a new messaging app, people have gained the access to connect with their friends and people with the same interest with a simple click of a button. In 2010 the internet company Kakao launched a new messaging app named KakaoTalk, an app that would connect individuals from all corners of the world.

The popular app, KakaoTalk features free talk, text, and video messaging for those who can download the app. The application is available for iOS, macOS, Android, Bada, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Windows NT, and Nokia Asha. This messaging app has become very popular not only among Koreans but also worldwide; it has allowed people to find friends with common interest no matter how far you are from one another. Another exciting feature that has made them popular, especially among the youth, are the characters that come along with the application; a few of you may know them as Ryan, Apeach, Tube, Neo, Frodo, Jay G, Muzi and Con. These characters are not only mascots for the messaging app KakaoTalk, but they are also characters in which any ordinary individual can oftentimes relate to. Each cute and lovable character has their own unique personality and were even welcomed guest at this years KCon.

Front (left to right): Muzi, Con, Apeach, Neo
Back (left to right): Ryan, Tube, Frodo, Jay G

Ryan, who happens to be the leader of the Kakao Friends, is a maneless lion and the member who never really seems to smile; although his emotions can be interpreted through the position of his classic straight eyebrows, the rest is left to the imaginations of everyone else. He is among the most popular of the Kakao Friends who was just as cute when he was a young cub.

Apeach is a genetically modified peach who loves an adventure and finds comfort in causing mischief. The cute little peach is infamous for looking like something entirely different when showing off his backside but that won’t stop Apeach from having the time of its life.

Muzi is a Korean yellow radish in the disguise of a rabbit; this Kakao Friend is seen with the most mysterious of the Kakao Friends, Con. Con is an alligator-like friend who is believed to be the creator of his companion, Muzi; these seem to be enough of an explanation as to why these two odd friends are always together.

The next of the friends is Neo, the sassiest and most stylish of the friends family. Her hobbies include shopping and accessorizing herself with pearls, her glasses and her signature bobbed wig. Her main priority, however, after shopping is her preppy boyfriend, Frodo.

Frodo is the serious looking dog friend who happens to come from a wealthy family. His seriousness can be easily diminished as he is always seen with his feline girlfriend, Neo.

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– 명탐정 ‘셜록 홈스’로 변신한 프로도! 🕵🏻 미스테리 소설 속 주인공으로 변신한 카카오프렌즈 ✔️ 긴장감 넘치는 사건 속으로 빠져보세요 📖 #카카오프렌즈_셜록홈스탄생130주년_스페셜에디션 – Meet Frodo and Friends who are dressed up as characters from Sherlock Holmes! Release of the Kakao Friends Special Edition in celebration of the 130th anniversary of the birth of Sherlock Holmes – [예약판매 링크] 👉🏻교보문고 https://goo.gl/J4fC5K 👉🏻예스24 https://goo.gl/YatmzQ 👉🏻알라딘 goo.gl/Kq1ajs 👉🏻인터파크 goo.gl/wd7amt – #카카오프렌즈 #셜록홈즈 #130주년기념스페셜에디션 #오늘부터예약구매 #라이언 #무지 #콘 #어피치 #튜브 #프로도 #네오 #제이지 #일상 #데일리 #즐거움 #라이프스타일 #책스타그램#Kakaofriends #Sherlockholmes #novel #ryan #muzi #tube #frodo #neo #daily #enjoy #books

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The only one of the Kakao Friends who seems to have a job is no other than Jay G, our mole friend. He is a secret agent who like many of us has our own idols and inspiration. You may have figured out that Jay G’s biggest inspiration is the famous hip-hop artist, Jay Z. But, don’t let his serious appearance fool you. The cool secret agent is actually a sensitive mole that simply asks for some love.

Our next friend is Tube, a cowardly duck with prosthetic feet. Like many of us, this duck has his insecurities which is why he wears prosthetic feet in order to hide is very small ones. He is the only one of the Kakao Friends who has an alter ego; when this friend is upset he has the ability to turn into a hulk-like duck who breathes fire. I’m sure many of us have felt this way at some point or another when we have our bad days.

And now, it is my pleasure to announce the newest additions) to the Kakao Friends family! Twin penguins, Kero and Berony. These mischievous little ones are always causing trouble while they look for their mother. However, these little cute penguins are no ordinary penguins as they hate the cold. This probably explains why they can’t find their mother, they can only last 30 minutes outside of their homes before they hurry back to be near a fire!

The wonderful world of Kakao is available to almost every individual in the world in any form and shape. Whether it’s through the app or through beauty. These cute friends have partnered up with various companies including The Face Shop where you can buy their Kakao Friends makeup line; the Kakao Friends makeup line is to die for. Lotions to mirrors are available both in store and online. Their online store is also the website to search if you want the cutest products that come straight from Korea. Cute merchandise and products can be found there; Kakao now offers global delivery in 52 countries so there is no need to worry about getting your products straight from Korea. From clocks to pajamas; tooth brushes to plushies; gummies to stickers; you can find everything you need and everything you want on the Kakao website. The online store of Kakao is a place where your inner child can roam free; a place where you can buy almost anything in the form of your favorite Kakao Friend. So pick a favorite or pick them all. Grab a buddy and explore the world of Kakao.


BTS Becomes First Boyband to Address the United Nations

Along with many of their previous historical achievements, BTS has now officially become the first K-Pop group the first boyband to address the United Nations. The United Nations gathered in New York City on Monday, September 24 to focus on youth-related issues with the launch of Youth 2030.

BTS took a short break from their Love Yourself World Tour to attend the UN gathering after having been invited because of their partnership with UNICEF on their “Love Myself” campaign. The K-Pop group will now focus on the launching of Generation Unlimited, a new global effort to ensure every young person is in education, training or employment by 2030. 

BTS and their parent company, Big Hit Entertainment, joined forces with the Korean Committee for UNICEF, which is affiliated with the United Nations, on November 1, 2017, to sponsor the #ENDviolence campaign with the global mission to ensure the safety of the youth of the world. In addition to their “Love Myself” campaign that encourages self-love, the K-Pop group recently finished their “Love Yourself” album series dedicated to this specific message.

Big Hit Entertainment has pledged 500 million KRW (around $447,400) to the campaign and stated that 3% of the sales for their “Love Yourself” physical albums and all income from the sales of their Love Myself official goods are to be donated to the #ENDviolence campaign.

Kim Namjoon, also known as RM and the leader of BTS, delivered a speech on behalf of the entire group, Jin, J-Hope, Suga, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, who joined him at the mic. Namjoon spoke eloquently to heads of state and distinguished guests at the United Nations about his personal life, specifically his struggle with self-acceptance. He stated, “I tried to jam myself into the other molds that other people made. Soon, I began to shut out my own voice and listen to the voice of others. No one called out my name and neither did I. My heart stopped and my eyes closed shut. Like this, I—we—all lost our names. We became like ghosts. But I had one sanctuary, and that was music.”

He added that the relationship and community he has with his members and the support from the BTS fans, better known as the ARMY, are what has helped him with his achievements. He continued his speech by stating, “Even after the decision of joining BTS, there were a lot of hurdles . . . Most people thought we were hopeless, and sometimes I just wanted to quit. Anything that I’ve achieved, it was only possible that I had my other BTS members right by my side, and because of the love and support that our ARMY fans all over the world made for us.”

To continue from the “Love Myself” campaign, he now encourages individuals to “Speak Yourself” as it is necessary to both love yourself and take proud ownership of everything that defines you—your passions, your story. “I’d like to ask all of you: What is your name? What excites you and makes your heart beat? Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin color, your gender identity—just speak yourself. Find your name and find your voice by speaking yourself.”

Namjoon leads by example by saying,  “Yesterday’s me is still me. Today, I am who I am with all of my faults and my mistakes.” and “I have come to love myself for who I am, for who I was, and for who I hope to become.”

Watch the full speech below:

For more information on the LOVE MYSELF campaign, click here and the United Nations and Youth 2030 initiative, click here.

Cr: https://www.love-myself.org/eng/about-lovemyself/,  http://www.genunlimited.org/,http://www.vulture.com/2018/09/watch-bts-address-the-united-nations.html

What is Songpyeon?

Chuseok, Korea’s autumn harvest festival, is right around the corner, and Koreans are busily preparing for the celebration. Starting this year on Sunday, September 23rd, the annual three-day holiday celebrates the beginning of the fall season. Families gather to watch traditional plays, dance traditional songs and play traditional games. Most importantly, Koreans celebrate Chuseok with a variety of amazing traditional Korean food. One, in particular, must never be forgotten to be placed at the dinner table during the holiday: songpyeon.

Songpyeon is one of the many traditional Korean foods that are symbolic in the culture. Historically, it was created using the first rice harvest. Songpyeon is a half-moon shaped rice cake that is filled with either a sweet or semi-sweet filling such as sesame seeds, nuts, or bean powder. The rice cake is steamed, usually over pine needles to give it a subtle pine tree flavor. This method of steaming the rice cake is also the reason why songpyeon directly translates to “pine cakes.”

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Songpyeon typically comes in 5 cardinal colors- green, yellow, red, pink, and purple. Each color are all made naturally: green is made with mugwort powder; yellow with pumpkin powder; red with the cockscomb flower; pink with different berries; and purple with a purple potato or with grapes and blueberries.

Making songpyeon is a common tradition among Korean families during Chuseok. It is an essential food for the holiday and will be for many more years. For other traditional Chuseok foods, check out this article on other traditional foods for this holiday.

Celebrating Chuseok with Traditional Foods

What comes to mind when we think of a Thanksgiving dinner? Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and lots of cornbread. Yet, this is not so in other parts of the world. For Korea, Chuseok is a time when families get together in their ancestral cities or towns and celebrate by eating many different foods. Together they prepare many traditional dishes which include songpyeong, galbi jjim, jeon, and much more.

Chuseok means Autumn Eve, which is indicative of the time of year it is celebrated: the very end of summer and beginning of fall. The interesting thing to know about Chuseok is that most people try to prepare foods using the new year’s crops. Thus, the large array of multi-coloured foods and ingredients.

Main Dishes

1. Songpyeon (송편) – sweet and nutty rice cakes

These glutinous rice cakes are made from the new year’s rice crop. They are the staple in celebrating Chuseok and are very colourful. To find out more about songpyeon, check out our other article here!

2. Galbi Jjim (갈비찜) – Braised short ribs

The sticky consistency of the braised short ribs pair perfectly with a fresh bowl of rice. 

3. Jeon (전) – Fried pancake 

The name for this jeon can be translated as tri-coloured jeon. It primary consists of ham, green onion and crab sticks. But, people mix and match ingredients, resulting in these beautifully multi-coloured skewers.

The type of jeon shown below is one of the many prepared during Chuseok (and any other large holiday). The perilla leaf (sesame leaf) is stuffed with beef and fried in egg and flour. It is both delicious and unique.

4. Saengseontwigim (생선튀김) – fried fish

Another typical dish that can be found during Chuseok is fried fish. Any type of fish can be used but most often you will find is the croaker fish, or jogi (조기) in Korea.


  1. Sikhye (식혜) – sweet rice drinks

Not only is this a super popular drink at the Korean saunas, but it is also a traditional drink during Chuseok. Sikhye is made by adding malt water to cooked rice and cooking it until its sweet.

2.  Dongdongju (동동주) – fermented rice beverage 

Many mysteries surround the difference between makgeolli and dongdongju. Simply put, dongdongju goes through a much quicker fermentation process and is the unfiltered version of makgeolli. 

Written by Kristina Marchenko