Fest celebrates kimchi-making in the heart of Seoul

For Koreans, kimchi-making is the annual family or neighborhood ritual that prepares them to get through the long winter with nutritional kimchi. This year, this custom called "gimjang" will be celebrated in a big way in bustling spots across Seoul such as Gwanghwamun, Cheonggye Plaza and Seoul Plaza.

The 2014 Seoul Kimchi Making and Sharing Festival will run from Friday to Sunday with a variety of events related to kimchi. The festival invites citizens and tourists to taste different kinds of kimchi and participate in kimchi-making.

The gimjang custom, added to the UNESCO intangible heritage list in 2013, has been an important part of the local cultural tradition. Koreans prepare gimjang kimchi from November to early December with family members and neighbours, gathering together to make, share and eat the spicy fermented dish.

Highlight programs include massive gimjang events on Saturday and Sunday that will invite some 3,000 foreign tourists to make kimchi in Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall.

The kimchi made at the event will be donated to the underprivileged to uphold the sharing spirit of the custom. On Sunday, the plaza will turn bright red as some 2,000 Chinese tourists participate in the kimchi-making event in their traditional Chinese costumes.

The festival also runs a kimchi market where visitors can buy gimjang kimchi ingredients such as salted cabbage, fermented anchovy or other kinds of seafood and powdered chili peppers in Taepyeongno.

Kimchi masters whose recipes have been passed down from their ancestors will hold kimchi-making sessions at Gwanghwamun Plaza. Participants who have made online reservations will join the events.

Due to its popularity, reservation for most of the kimchi-making and cooking classes has been closed, but some cooking events will be open to visitors on the spot.

A kimchi exhibition at Gwanghwamun Plaza offers a rare opportunity to learn the centuries-old kimchi recipes of aristocrats, royal families and Buddhist temples.

For more information about the programs, visit festival.seoul.go.kr/2014kimchi.