Thursday, November 3rd 11am-2pm
Kimjang / 김장(making kimchi as a community) is one of the most important experiences you can participate in while living in Korea. It's not about the food so don't skip it even if you don't like kimchi. This is about the community and working together to make something people will cherish throughout the year. It's a fulfilling and enriching experience that you can't quite put into words and I consider it the best thing you can do while living here.
So, why do I love it so much? Although I had made kimchi at home before, I can't say I understand it's value until I gathered with a large group of people to make it together. The first time I experienced it was when I went home with my bosses family for the weekend to help her aging parents make it for their family. Who knows what I expected, but it wasn't what I found. First of all, it's hard work to make kimchi for the year. It took two days and fifteen people to do everything the old fashioned way. During that time stories were told, dinners were had, and bonding was done. It was beautiful. It was real.
Up until that point I had sort of dismissed the larger kimchi events hosted by government programs as just another publicity stunt, but after my own experience I realized these mass kimchi making events aren't just about show, they are also about heart. It's an expression of love and companionship. To invite someone to make kimchi and to accept the offer is a beautiful point of bonding and agreement. It brings you together.
If you are going to do one thing while you are here, do yourself a favor and go to a kimchi making event. Embrace it even if you don't like kimchi. Slow down. Let go of what you believe you know about this country you live in and be in the moment. For one day, don't be jaded. A whole world of experiences can be found stuffing cabbage leaves with special sauce.