Tag Archives: kimchi


Kimchi Nostalgia

story and illustration by KAM REDLAWSK

I think every one of us can immediately list foods that remind us of our childhood, the foods that give us comfort and feel like home. But how about foods that revive a childhood that we can’t seem to remember? When I boarded the plane to my new American life, in 1983, I not only left my foster mother, my orphanage and all that I knew for four years, but my home country and its culture.

Growing up in the suburbs of Michigan, with very Caucasian surroundings, I underwent the process that any foreigner goes through to assimilate and survive in her new life. I began learning my new family’s culture, and soon enough the memories of my birth country began to dissolve. I began to forget that I was Korean and had come from very different beginnings. It was almost like I folded the memories neatly and tucked them in a back drawer, opening them only now and then.

One summer when I was 12 years old, my family took a summer road trip to Kentucky to meet my father’s friend, whom he had served alongside in Desert Storm. His wife, Suk, happened to be South Korean, and they had two sons. We spent a week with their family, and I always remember the trip very fondly. One day, Suk took my mother and me to a commissary that happened to sell some Korean foods, such as ramen and kimchi. I was flabbergasted to see all the different kinds of spicy ramens in the aisle. Up until then I thought ramen only came in chicken flavor.

When we arrived back at her house with a bag full of groceries, Suk seemed excited to introduce me to some humble Korean treats. I remember standing on her linoleum kitchen floor as she reached into the fridge and took out a gigantic jar of what looked like brains to me. She told me it was spicy cabbage, a staple of Korean cuisine. “Wow,” I thought, “it looks gross.”

Suk set up a traditional, low Korean table on the floor and cooked up a very simple ramen dish with an egg, a bowl of steamed rice, some seaweed wraps and the kimchi. I felt new to the experience, but excited. I could tell Suk was excited, too, to share some of the foods that I seemed to have forgotten. As I took in a waft of the kimchi, it smelled garlicky and a bit rancid. I took a bite, and it was crunchy, yet soft in texture. Despite how smelly it was, I was in love with kimchi from the first bite. I remember eating some rice with the kimchi, and even the rice was different than what I had throughout my American life. It was stickier. I sat at the Korean table scarfing down the Korean edibles, and somehow I felt connected to a part of my old self. And, it felt familiar. Kimchi felt familiar.

The experience made me realize that our sense of smell and taste are extremely potent. Perhaps the olfactory and gustatory memory is even more reliable than our other memories because the latter often gets distorted by its owners. But our smell- and taste-based memories seem more pure, reminding us of something good or even something bad.

We all have these stories, stories of the foods that instantly give us that feeling of “home.” For me, this bowl of kimchi triggered some internal whisper that brought me back to my earliest, yet seemingly forgotten days. “Ahhh, I remember you,” the voice said. “Where have you been?”


Kam Redlawsk’s column runs every other month. To read more from Kam, visit her website or Facebook page.

This article was published in the October/November 2014 issue of KoreAm under the title “Kimchi Nostalgia”  Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the magazine issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).

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VIDEO: The Kimchi Slap Is The Best Revenge


Dexter Morgan has seen his share of blood splatter. But would he be able to handle kimchi splatter?

MBC’s Everybody Kimchi! explores the phenomenon of assault with a fermented weapon to the juiciest extent. The South Korean TV show is set in the kimchi industry, and like the dish itself, we can only imagine the drama is just as spicy.

In a recent episode, Won Ki-jun’s character plays a big-shot jerk lawyer who betrays the woman’s daughter. In perhaps one of the best redemption/revenge scenes ever, he gets what’s coming to him. The mother takes an entire cabbage head of kimchi and gives the guy a thorough whack. Move over, Oldboy.

The slap occurs at about the 1:30 mark.

Anyone else feel worse for his white shirt than for him getting kimchi juice all up in his ear and office? And by the way, what’s up with the printer in the back shooting out a sheet of paper just as the slap occurs?

Kimchi Slap 2

We understand that face: cleaning up spilled kimchi is like dealing with a radiation leak. Also, the shirt. The poor shirt.

For those who can’t get enough, here’s the kimchi slap over and over for one minute.

Image via Kotaku


Pic of the Day: Kimchi Hot Dog

Summer’s nearly here, and that means barbecue season! That might also mean your standard fare of hot dogs and burgers, macaroni salad and other outdoor food staples. But if you’re thinking of trying something new, here’s one way to take your next hot dog to the next level.

This recipe for the Kimchi hot dog comes from online Korean cuisine master Emily Kim, who also goes by Maangchi, which means “hammer” in Korean. Aside from publishing actual cookbooks, you can check out the extensive number of videos on her YouTube channel. Be sure to note the special way she prepares the hot dogs.

Kimchi Hot Dog

Ingredients (for 4 hot dogs):

– 4 hot dog buns
– 4 hot dogs, scored
– 1/3 cup fermented kimchi, chopped
– 1/4 cup chopped onion
– 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
– a pinch of sugar
– lettuce leaves
– cheddar cheese
– mustard


1. Heat up a large grill or pan over medium high heat. Lower the heat to medium. Add the vegetable oil and cook the dogs until outside is crispy. Take out the dogs to a plate and set aside. Cook the buns, turning them with tongs until fluffy. Take the buns out and set aside.



2. Tilt the pan to collect the leftover oil and add kimchi. Stir-fry it for a few minutes. Add sugar and stir. Remove from the heat and add the chopped onion. Mix it well. The onion will be a little cooked from the heated kimchi.




Put some lettuce, cooked kimchi onion mixture, and a dog in each bun and top with mustard and cheddar.


Images via Maangchi.com

Tuesday's Link Attack: Kimchi Fines, Hollywood Missionary, Hines Ward

Restaurants Sour on Rules Over Kimchi
Wall Street Journal

Lidea Park, owner of Duck Hyang restaurant in Queens, says she makes kimchi with trepidation.

Ever since she received seven violation points during a city health inspection in June, she’s been fearful about how her restaurant prepares and stores kimchi, a traditional fermented dish that is a staple in Korean cuisine. The violation points resulted from five pounds of kimchi being left at room temperature and exceeding the city Department of Health’s 41-degree temperature requirement for cold foods, according to the inspection.

“They don’t understand the kimchi,” said Ms. Park. “Many Korean restaurants with kimchi get points because the inspector, they don’t understand what it is.”

Korean restaurant and business groups say they are all too often unfairly penalized by the health department because their fermented foods are determined to be above 41 degrees, the temperature below which city rules require potentially hazardous prepared cold food be stored.


Great Falls man pleads guilty in contracting scam
Washington Post

A Great Falls man has admitted he played a key role in what authorities have described as one of the most brazen federal contracting scams in U.S. history, according to court records that became public Monday.

Young N. Cho, who also goes by the first name of Alex, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges at a secret hearing in September — just weeks before federal agents arrested four other men in a $20 million scheme that targeted the Army Corps of Engineers.

Cho’s plea deal became public after a federal judge ordered it unsealed.

Cho, 40, was chief technology officer of Nova Datacom, a Chantilly-based information technology company that did work with the Army Corps. His role in the scam began in 2007 when he began passing kickbacks to two program managers at the Army Corps in exchange for lucrative contracts, according to court papers.

Background Extra Recounts His Unlikely Spiritual Mission
Media Bistro

LA native Steve Cha has a B.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA and is currently working on an M.A. in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. Along the way, he also worked for several years as a professional background extra.

Earlier this year, Cha published a book about his on-set experiences called Hollywood Mission: Possible. With Christmas and Tom Cruise upon us, he is re-promoting a tale of, essentially, the Tim Tebow of background extras:

During his three-year journey, Steve evangelized many famous actors, actresses, directors, and aspirants in Tinsel Town… Steve’s revealing autobiography recounts how the gospel was shared with celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Dan Aykroyd, and many other stars.

Hines Ward in ‘Dark Knight Rises’ trailer
CBS Sports

“Dark Knight Rises,” the latest in the line of Batman movies from Christopher Nolan, is slated to hit theaters in July of 2012. But the full trailer hit the Internets over the weekend and guess who makes a cameo: Hines Ward!

We already knew that a slew of Steelers players were playing roles in the movie as members of the Gotham Rogues, whose home field is set at Heinz Field, but not until my younger brother chatted me on Sunday did I realize that Ward was actually in the preview.

You can check out Ward’s appearance at the 1:15 mark below as he runs from not just defenders, but a slew of explosions set by Bane, the movie’s villain, who’s basically like an evil version of Rob Gronkowski, who is also hell-bent on blowing up Heinz Field (only metaphorically) and quite clearly a efficient killing machine created by scientists.

Chul Hyun Ahn explores the Infinite Void
Baltimore City Paper

You can walk all the way around it for hours, but to fully experience artist Chul Hyun Ahn’s “Void Platform,” you have to take off your shoes (as signs prompt you to do) and walk out onto it.

The “out” inserts itself in that sentence because of the nature of the piece. In the front gallery at C. Grimaldis Gallery on North Charles Street, Ahn has constructed a low 10-foot-by-8-foot plywood-faced platform that appears to cover a yawning pit descending through the floor as far as the eye can see, albeit a pit lined with subtle bands of greenish lighting. You find yourself testing the surface with your sock-encased toes, curious to know if it will hold your weight. It will, but you hesitate a little anyway. You step onto the smooth surface and stand over what seems to be infinite space receding away below your feet. But if the surface of the piece didn’t hold your weight, you’d drop a mere 16 inches onto Grimaldis’ wooden floor.

Why it’s great to be a foreign traveler in Korea

With so many foreign travelers visiting Korea on shopping sprees, it seems Korea has been busy devising ways to say “visit often’ and “thank you” at the same time.

There is so much special treatment for foreign travelers, we wonder why Koreans aren’t more envious.

Here are five benefits of being a foreign traveler in Korea.


Wednesday's Link Attack: NK-SK Tensions, John Cho, Carolina Kimchi

South Korea Returns Fire After North Shells Disputed Waters
New York Times

The South Korean military returned fire on Wednesday after North Korean artillery shells fell in waters near a South Korean island the North attacked last year with a lethal artillery barrage, Defense Ministry officials said.

South Korean marines based on the island, Yeonpyeong, 75 miles west of Seoul, detected three artillery shots from a North Korean island around 1 p.m. Wednesday, the officials said.

Last November, North Korea launched an artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong, killing two marines and two civilians.

Check out our feature story from this month’s issue on how the island is coping with the attack seven months later.

First Look: ‘A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas’
Slash Film

It’s been three years in real time since we last caught up with stoner buds Harold & Kumar (in 2008’s Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay) but it’s been six years of time within the movies since the two friends played by Kal Penn and John Cho last spent time together. Their third film, and their first in 3D (and first outright holiday movie) sees the pair reunited and, judging by the looks on their faces, back in trouble.

N. Korea reportedly attempting to assassinate S. Korean defense chief: sources
Yonhap News

North Korea is apparently trying to assassinate South Korea’s defense chief known for his hard-line stance against Pyongyang, government sources here said Wednesday.

A source said Seoul has “received intelligence” that North Korea is after Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin.

Korean kayaker drowns in Otis
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

A 75-year-old Korean man who was vacationing in Maine drowned Tuesday morning after his kayak overturned on Beech Hill Pond, according to the Maine Warden Service.

Hong Sohn of Seoul, South Korea, was about 300 feet from shore when his boat capsized shortly before 10 a.m., according to Warden Sgt. Chris Simmons. Sohn tried to swim to safety before he sank below the water’s surface.

“Unsuccessful attempts were made from people on the pond to help him,” Simmons said. “He was approximately 30 feet from shore when he just quit swimming.”

SKorean police say stock broker jumped off building after suffering heavy losses
Associated Press via Washington Post

South Korean police say a stock broker has jumped off a high-rise residential building to his death after he apparently suffered heavy losses in the global markets turmoil.

Chief investigator Lee Kang-ho said Wednesday that a 48-year-old man surnamed Seo sent his colleagues text messages expressing remorse over the losses just minutes before he jumped from the building.

Jury orders death penalty for woman convicted of killing family
Los Angeles Times

A Southern California jury recommended the death penalty for a Chinese American woman who murdered her husband and two young sons in 2007.

S. Korean man found hanged in airplane toilet
Yonhap News

A South Korean man was found dead in an apparent suicide in an airplane lavatory on an international flight operated by an unidentified domestic air carrier, police said Tuesday.

The 43-year-old man, identified only by his surname Yang, an employee of a private company, apparently hanged himself aboard the flight departing from the Chinese city of Guangzhou for Incheon International Airport on late Monday, according to police.

Brian Myers: Korea’s most dangerous writer?
Yonhap News

He may be the most influential intellectual writer from the Korean Peninsula, but he is not Korean. He is obscure among domestic Pyongyang watchers but writes about North Korea for some of the world’s most influential media.

He is Brian Myers, an American who teaches international studies at Dongseo University in the southern port city of Busan. An academic, author and columnist, he contributes to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. It’s his status as an iconoclast that has won him fame.

Chefs champion tangy kimchi, the classic condiment of Korean cuisine
Charleston City Paper (S.C.)

Who knew there were so many Korean restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina?

To say that kimchi packs a punch is an understatement. It possesses a crunch rivaled only by the best pickles. If its spicy kick doesn’t knock you out of your flip-flops, then its sourness, the product of days, if not weeks of fermentation, certainly will. But if that doesn’t get you, the smell of garlic and fish sauce and onions and who knows what else will surely do the trick.

Pilot from missing Asiana aircraft had $1.7 million debt
Asia One

The missing captain from an aircraft that crashed near Jeju Island last month reportedly had massive debts from guaranteeing a relative’s loan.

Speculation concerning the intentionality of the accident was sparked as it was revealed that the pilot had signed up for around seven life insurance policies with dividends of US$2.8 million (S$3.4 million), just a month before the crash.


Friday's Link Attack: Kimchi Chronicles, Priscilla Ahn, Margaret Cho

Marja Vongerichten Snacks on String Cheese, Gives In to Her Soda Weakness
New York Magazine’s GrubStreet

The Kimchi Chronicles host takes NY Mag through five days of food.

Friday, June 24
I’m not much of a breakfast person, but I had cold Korean cucumber noodles. It’s a dish I make a lot in the summer. I do it with soba noodles. It’s cool and refreshing, and if you don’t have an appetite for anything, it’s a good filler.

Later that day I ate a handful of chips and some chicken wings at karaoke with my mom. Then Jean-Georges came and joined us, and we went to Don’s Bogam. It’s a Korean restaurant on 32nd Street. So I went with JG and my karaoke crew. We had galbi, which is marinated beef, and naengmyeon, which is like a water noodle. It’s a chewy noodle that they put in this broth and season with mustard and vinegar. Oh, and sake.

Priscilla Ahn: When You Grow Up (review)

What is perhaps most remarkable about this sophomore full length from Priscilla Ahn is the artist’s ability to craft contemporary confessional songs that are honest without being abrasive; gentle yet capable of achieving maximum emotional impact.

A photographer’s day trip to grounds of Korean War
Korea Herald

Here is an interesting profile of Mark Edward Harris, a photographer who has made 10 trips to the Korean peninsula including four trips to North Korea. Harris focused on the “Iron Triangle” a region between Cheorwon, Gimhwa and Pyeonggang where the most ferocious battles took place during the Korean War.

S. Koreans win five prizes in world’s top classical music competition
Yonhap News

South Korean artists won five prizes at one of the world’s most prestigious classical music competitions. The International Tchaikovsky Competition is held every four years in Moscow and is the Olympics of the classical music scene.

Park Jong-Min, 24, and Seo Sun-Young, 27, captured the top spot in the highly-competitive male and female solo vocal categories. Meanwhile, pianists Son Yeol-eum, 25, and Jo Seong-jin, 17, secured second and third place, respectively, while Lee Ji-Hye, 25, took third in violin.

Park and Seo were the first Koreans to win a first prize in the competition after baritone Choi Hyun-soo, better known as Hans Choi, won victory in male solo vocal during the 9th competition in 1990.

“I really feel like I am in a dream,” Park told reporters after receiving the prize. “I came to cherish a hope of participating in this competition when I was a high-school student after watching a video clip of my teacher singing in the 1990 competition. But I have never thought that I would succeed him as the winner.”

Margaret Cho Gives Her Take On Things

On Anthony Weiner:
I’ve totally taken pictures of myself! I’ve definitely done it but have only sent it to people over 50 who can take it and have bad eyes anyway

Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame
The Guardian (U.K.)

Officers in Huili, Sichuan apologize for a badly doctored picture of men inspecting new road on local government Web site.

Bul Gol Ki Power
Black Athlete Sports Network

Black Athlete takes a look at why Korean female golfers have been dominating the LPGA.

In Korea, parents motivate their children to excel at their craft unlike American children who are allowed to play until they enter high school. The mindset is completely different in Korea, You must be successful at everything, even their hobbies. Korean children become responsible at the age of 12 to 14 which is unthinkable in the United States. Continue reading

Kimchi Chronicles L.A. Premiere Screening!

It’s Monday Giveaway time … on a Wednesday!

Here’s another treat for our Los Angeles readers, we are giving away two tickets to the L.A. premiere of “Kimchi Chronicles,” the long-awaited PBS show about Korean food and culture, to be held on Wednesday, July 6.

The brainchild of the lovely and talented Marja Vongerichten, who happens to be married to world-renowned chef Jean-Georges, “Kimchi Chronicles” is a 13-part series which will make its nationwide debut on July 7.

Our February 2011 feature about Marja and her new show describes it best:

Part documentary, part culinary adventure, this multi-episode journey takes viewers on a toothsome tour of South Korea—from Seoul to Busan to Jeju Island—with Vongerichten exploring the cuisine of the peninsula known for its spicy kick. Think Anthony Bourdain meets the Travel Channel, but with a curvier guide hosting.

One lucky winner and a friend will attend the private VIP screening at the CGV Cinemas in the heart of L.A.’s Koreatown, followed by a VIP reception in the Madang Courtyard. It’s a great space, we recently hosted the Hangover 2 after-party there!

To win tickets, please leave a comment telling us what your favorite Korean dish is and why. For an additional chance to win, simply retweet our @KoreAm tweet about the giveaway.

Winner will be picked at random unless someone comes up with something really funny.

The contest ends on Friday, July 1 at 5PM PST, please leave a valid email address that you check daily.

WHAT: Kimchi Chronicles Screening and Reception
WHERE: CGV Cinemas, 621 S. Western Ave, Los Angeles
WHEN: Wednesday, July 6 at 6:30pm


Tuesday's Link Attack: North Korean Hackers, Kelly Choi, Korean Food

North Korea Recruits Hackers at School
Al Jazeera

Two defectors: a former hacker and a hacking teacher say North Korea is shoring up its cyber-warfare units to battle its southern rival as well as the United States.

Following an expedited two-year program at university, students are sent to China or Russia for about one year to solidify their knowledge of hacking and and other technical skills. After the overseas training, they are placed in various warfare units to serve as “cyber-warriors”, Kim said.

The publication said the cyber-warfare unit had its agency status upgraded last year which prompted a boost in hackers from 500 to approximately 3,000.

These “cyberwarriors” are provided with the best environment, and if they graduate with top grades, their parents in the provinces are given the opportunity to live in Pyongyang, Kim said, citing verified information from his former students who are still operating as hackers in the North.

Photo via Al Jazeera

Korea’s Food Identity Crisis
Toronto Star

The Toronto Star‘s food editor published a long piece on the country’s food “quandary” as the government seeks to promote global popularity on the scale of China and Japan.

“There’s a disconnect between what the Korean government is trying to promote and what people are eating at home.”

Photo via Toronto Star

‘Secrets of New York’ host Kelly Choi likes digging deep into forgotten stories of the city
New York Daily News

Kelly Choi is hosting a new show on NYC TV called Secrets of New York, which uses archival photos and vintage footage to tell stories about New York City that you might have forgotten about.

Choi may be best-known for her work in the food arena, first as host of “Eat Out New York” on NYC and Bravo’s “Top Chef.” On “Secrets,” though, Choi conveys a mysterious image by wearing black, thanks to help from designer Natalia Danilova.

“I’m imparting that information in an intriguing way,” she says. “I purposely wear a deep red lipstick. I appreciate the visual aspect. Whatever works to get me in the mood for that, I’m open to.”

Photo via NY Daily News

Norristown eyed as potential location for South Korean university (video)
The Times Herald (Pa.)

South Korea’s Dongseo University is considering opening up an annex campus in Pennsylvania.

Congressman Jim Gerlach and Montgomery County Commissioners Joe Hoeffel and Bruce Castor were among those who convened on Monday afternoon to show their support for an East Coast annex of the major private university in South Korea that provides education in a wide spectrum of majors including IT, Film & Image, Design, Engineering and Communication.

Tumblr Founder Loves Kim Jong Il Blog

The founder of the popular publishing tool was profiled by CNN and mentioned that one of his favorite blogs is Kim Jong Il Looking at Things. It’s exactly what you would expect. Pretty hilarious, actually.

‘Maria the Korean Bride’ married 50 times in every State
International Business Times

Performance artist Maria Yoon staged mock weddings in all 50 states. Continue reading