Thousands donned aprons and hairnets Thursday outside City Hall in Seoul, Korea, in a bid to make the world's biggest batch of kimchi, the spicy pickled cabbage that is Korea's best-known dish.
Kimchi traditionally is prepared in the fall during an annual rite called the "kimjang," and then packed into giant pickling jars and buried in the ground to ferment. Kimchi comes in hundreds of varieties and is eaten with most Korean meals, but the most common form is Napa cabbage slathered with red pepper and garlic.
On Thursday, some 2,200 volunteers — South Koreans and foreigners — braved a cold snap to make 143 tons of kimchi from 58,000 heads of cabbage, said Kim Sung-tae, a Seoul government official.
The yogurt drink maker Korea Yakult Co. has held the annual event since 2001 as part of a charity campaign. The volunteers will deliver the kimchi to 13,000 needy households in Seoul, Kim said.
“Making kimchi isn't easy but this is a fruitful event since it helps the poor,” said Lee Kum-hwa, 56, a volunteer from Yakult who delivers yogurt as her day job. “Today, we're delivering kimchi instead of yogurt.”
South Koreans gobbled up more than 1.3 million tons of kimchi in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, according to the Agriculture Ministry. These days, however, many people buy their kimchi at the supermarket.
Kimchi-making is not a category in the Guinness World Records, but the event's organizers said they received certification that the Seoul "kimjang" — one of six held at city halls across the country — was South Korea's biggest.