The napa cabbage prices are getting ridiculous. The other day I bought a head of napa cabbage and it cost me 15,000 won ($13.00) a head. And what makes it even worse is that the heads are smaller. As the owner of a cooking school that regularly does a kimchi making class, our costs for material is taking up a huge percentage of our cooking class fees. We've had to adjust, so now we are making different types of kimchi: turnip greens, green onion, cucumber, and turnip. I think many people forget that kimchi is not one particular dish, but a technique. Kimchi is a way of preserving vegetables for the winter when vegetables are hard to come by. There are, reportedly, over 130 different types of kimchi and even more in North Korea.
In a way, the napa cabbage kimchi is a good thing- it diversifies the types of kimchi that people will make this year (this will make farmers diversify the number of crops they'll plant this year.)
My blog-buddy, Zen Kimchi, was recently quoted in CNN talking about the crisis:
"Restaurants are charging for extra kimchi now. They're charging 2000 won for a refill. A meal generally costs 5000 won," said Joe McPherson, founding editor of ZenKimchi.com, which features the Korean Food Journal.
Koreans have taken to jokingly calling the side dish "geum-chi," substituting in the Korean word for gold."Now, I haven't experienced the "kimchi tax" yet, but I haven't been asking for extra servings of kimchi out of courtesy to the restaurants.
I have faith that Korea will prevail. They have survived centuries of invasions, colonizations, wars, the IMF, North Korea, Dictatorships, Melamine, and very angry grandmothers upset that flour is being used in their gochujang (see below).
Korea will prevail.