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Mayor Yoon hosts 21st Gwangju World Kimchi Culture FestivalOn the theme of ‘Kimchi embraces UNESCO’

Newly elected Mayor Yoon Jang-Hyun of the Gwangju Metropolitan City, 205 miles southwest of Seoul, is hosting the 21st Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival 2014 at the Gwangju Jungwe Park on Oct. 4-8, 2014 on the theme of “Kimchi Embraces the UNESCO.”

With a slogan, “Gwangju Kimchi Goes out to the World,” the leading Kimchi festival of Korea has a total of 42 interesting programs divided into seven different categories and is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, the UNESCO Korea Commission, the Korea Tourism Organization, the Korea Food Research Institute, the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, the Korea Tourism Association, the Korea Foodservice Industry Association, the Kimchi Association of Korea and the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine.

As in the previous years, the Gwangju Metropolitan City Government invites ambassadors and their spouses to visit Gwangju and take part in various interesting programs of the Festival, including their hands-on experience in Kimchi-making and events for their familiarization of the Gwanngju Kimchi.

The Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival was first established in 1994 and marks its 21st anniversary this year, which in Korea is compared to a man’s reaching of the age of majority. Thus the Festival represents the Republic of Korea as well as the Gwangju Metropolitan City.

The opening ceremony of the 2014 Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival will take place with the attendance of ambassadors from various countries of the world at the Main Stadium of the Festival for half an hour on the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2014 in celebration of the first anniversary of the UNESCO designation of Korean Winter Kimchi Culture an Important Heritage of Mankind. There will be various events in connection with the promotion of Kimchi to the outside world in addition to the opening celebration performances.

In 2002, CODEX Alimentarius International Food Standards officially recognized Kimchi as the ‘Naturally Fermented Food’ distinguished from the salted foods of the different countries of the world instead of Japan’s Kimuchi which is Japan’s domesticated name of Korea’s original Kimchi.

In 2006, the world-famous health magazine, HEALTH, selected Kimchi as one of the world’s five best health foods.

The NBC TV of the United States on March 31, 2009 recommended on the program of ‘To Age Gracefully’ to ‘eat Kimchi everyday.’

Last year at the Gwangju Kimchi Culture Festival in Washington DC last year, Washington Post Reporter Tim Carman reminded the American people that Kimchi was the world-famous health food with a story entitled, ‘Kimchi the Cheapest Health Insurance.’

Lately, First Lady Madam Michelle Obama of the United States published her Kimchi recipe on her twitter and recommended to her twitter followers they could try to make Kimchi by themselves. This really heated up the SNS media quite for some time.

Thus Kimchi is fast becoming a top global brand name for health food in all parts of the world.

Korea’s winter Kimchi culture has been designated by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of mankind and has thus become an outstanding global brand both in name and reality.

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the UNESCO designation of the Korean winter Kimchi culture, organizers of the 2014 Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival has prepared a wide variety of interesting programs so that all the visitors to the Festival will have their fill of fun and pleasure at various interesting event sites of the Festival.

Among such programs is meeting of the Kimchi business CEOs from over 10 different countries of the world, including Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong, which will continue for three days on Oct. 4-6, 2014. The meeting will take place at the Festival site, the Gwangju Kimchi Town and at the World Kimchi Research Institute in Gwangju Metropolitan City.

They will exchange their experiences in Kimchi business in their respective countries and explore ways to further expand their Kimchi business with a view to increasing Korea’s Kimchi exports to various countries of the world.
The program also includes attending of a seminar in Kimchi and a tour and inspection of various Kimchi production facilities in Gwangju.

Another interesting item is the Kimchi Bus Tour of six South American countries, namely Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. At the same time the public relations teams of the Festival will accompany the personnel of the Kimchi Bus during its tour of the six South American countries mentioned above.

There also is a Kimchi Five Sense Pavilion where various interesting events will take place on Oct. 4-10, 2014 at four different zones. The programs include introduction of Korea’s Winter Kimchi culture, Kimchi masters and designers and hosting of a Kimchi potluck party with the participation of expatriates in Korea. There will also be Kimchi-making contest for coveted prizes for children as well as for adults and Kimchi drawing contest and a Kimchi tunnel experiencing.

Still another interesting event is the Royal Kimchi academy with the presence of President Han Bok-ryeo of the Royal Cuisine Research Institute, who is the Master of the Important Intangible Cultural Asset Number 38 of the Joseon Dynasty. She will demonstrate how the Royal Kimchi is made for the King and Queen.

Other participating Kimchi masters at the event are Kimchi Master Kim Sun-ja (chairperson of the Kimchi Association of the Republic of Korea, Kimchi Master Kwak Eun-ju who won the Presidential Prize for 2000, and Kimchi Master Hyun Sook-hee, winner of the Presidential Prized for 2008. They will give lecture cum demonstration on how to make Royal Kimchi according to the recipe book of the Joseon Dynasty.

Then on Oct. 6-7, 2014, there will be lecture meetings at the Master Kimchi Pavilion where Professors Ryu Moo-hee of the Food Service Business Management Department of Howon University and Song Won-kyung of the Yeonsung University Food-styling Division. The topics include food-styling for newly designing foods through the use of Kimchi.

The Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival has become the representative premium food of Korea. Kimchi is the preserved fermented traditional Korean food that has developed throughout the history of Korea only as its typical food. Kimchi has now been scientifically proven to be a health food recognized by the world.

People’s interest in good health continues to grow in the world and Korean Kimchi is getting increased attention from around the world. Among the variety of Korean Kimchi, Gwangju Kimchi is especially noted for its taste and health promoting effects and functions.

The secret comes from the main materials such as radish and cabbage that are grown in the unique fertile soil of the Gwangju area and the sun-dried salt, pickled seafood and other materials. Above all, however, taste of the Gwangju Kimchi in fact comes from the skillful hands of the women of the Jeolla provinces.

There was a special Gwangju Kimchi event at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul on Sept. last year with the participation of Mayor park Won-soon with an eye to publishing this theme and seeking UNESCO’s registration of the Gwangju Kimchi and Kimjang (Winter Kimchi) Culture as intangible human cultural heritage. The event had a demonstration presented by Korea’s Royal Kimchi Master who had the skill of the important intangible cultural asset of Korea. The event was accorded great responses.

Kimchi is not simply something to eat. It is a culture. In the past, Kimchi was made and taken by the common people as well as by the King and the people made Kimchi together and shared it among them. Kimchi thus had the meaning of equality and sharing. This is true even today.
Here are excerpts of the congratulatory speech by Ambassador Dusan Bella of the Slovak Republic, dean of the visiting members of the Diplomatic Corps to Gwangju:

Congratulatory remarks by Ambassador Dusan Bella of Slovakia:
Allow me on behalf of participating diplomats to convey our sincere thanks to you for your kind invitation to Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival and Gwangju Design Biennale 2013. We are very pleased to visit your city of light, citizens of which throughout the Korean history have been standing at the forefront of the democracy movement of your country.

But we know, that here in Korea, Gwangju is famous also for its tasty cuisine and delicious Kimchi, as well as for a diverse culture and creative art.
This is the second time that my wife and me participate in both these festivals. And in this context, I am proud to remind that it was just my wife Eugenia, who two years ago won Kimchi-making competition here at your festival.

As it was mentioned in welcome remarks of Mayor Kang Un-tae, this year the Gwangju World Kimchi Culture Festival marks its 20th anniversary. And during those 20 years, this exceptional event contributed significantly to promotion of Gwangju Kimchi as probably the best kimchi in the world.
This traditional Korean fermented food has become not only representative premium food of Korea, but also a leading representative of Korean healthy nutrition, which has been gaining more and more recognition among scientists and health food experts around the globe.

We also noticed your effort to promote Gwangju Kimchi through a special event held at the Gyeongbok Palace at the beginning of September and we wish you a success in your aspiration to register Gwangju Kimchi and Kimjang (Winter Kimchi) on the UNESCO list of intangible human cultural heritage.

Last year’s Korean Kimchi tour in Europe and North America together with just started Kimchi tour in Norway, Sweden, Poland and Netherlands will for sure contribute to global promotion of this Korean premium food together with diverse and rich Korean culture.

I already mentioned that Gwangju is known also as a city rich in culture and art aspiring to become a cultural hub of Asia. Here I would like to draw your attention to a project of the European Capital of Culture, which may provide you with a number of good ideas and inspirations. I am very proud to say, that this year it is a Slovak city of Kosice, which together with city of Marseilles was designated by European Union with the title European Capital of Culture.

Having said that allow me to wish Mayor Kang and people of Gwangju a lot of prosperity, many good ideas transformed into successful projects and happy life for citizens of this vibrant and charming City of Light.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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