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Chinese whinging about kimchi’s UNESCO status

Some truly blogtastic complaining from Zhang Huiqiang, the associate director of the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine, about the registration of kimchi on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list:

“Technically, kimchi originated from Sichuan pickles,” said Zhang. “It’s like the offspring has stolen the glory belonging to its ancestor.”

And on Chinese social media:

“Our Sichuan pickles taste much better than Korean kimchi. They have a longer history and are more diverse!” Claire Li wrote on Sina’s microblog, Weibo.

Parting shot from Zhang:

“I don’t worry that Unesco won’t list two similar items,” Zhang said. “Ours is better, keep that in mind; if they can recognise a good one, why not a better one.”

According to a JoongAng Ilbo piece from 2011, Sichuan’s butt-hurt pickle-makers have been trying to push this line for a couple of years now. Interestingly enough, Sichuan pickles are fermented in a clay jar, much like Korea’s kimchi, although the pickles’ sterile fermentation contrasts with the lactic acid fermentation used in kimchi, German kimchi (referred to in some places as “sauerkraut”) and yogurt.

Pro tip: Russian dill pickles go great with buuz.

photo credit: buck82 via photopin cc

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  • SeoulGoodman

    I get that his job is to promote Sichuan pickles, but his approach leaves to be desired. Had I not had Sichuan pickles, I’d think the dish truly sucks when in fact it’s OK (but just not as good as kimchi).

  • Bob Bobbs

    My pickle is bigger than yours.

  • kaizenmx

    china’s explanation is that every single thing from Korea originated in china.

  • Kimji

    Any kimchi historians out there who can enlighten us on the history of kimchi’s origins? Did the Sichuan pickle really give birth to kimchi?

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    “German kimchi (referred to in some places as “sauerkraut”)”

    Hahahaha… As a huge sauerkraut fan, this is exactly how I explain what it is to my Korean friends.

  • MannyBalut

    China arrogantly (and stupidly) believes everything originated in China. They also think they have legitimate claims to lands that have never belonged to them. Now that they have become a wealthy country, they have also become an asshole bully. They can take their Sichuan pickles and stick them right up their ass.

  • aligner

    When Korea crawls into bed with China on a range of other issues involving “national interest” it shouldn’t be surprised when it is the one getting it up the ass.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Let’s just call them filthy chinks and be done with them

  • bumfromkorea

    In a world (that is, world according to the CCP) where 고구려 is considered a Chinese kingdom and Korean EEZ in the Yellow Sea is more of a polite suggestion, this is hardly surprising.

  • ChuckRamone

    There are similar debates about the origin of hummus. People get real territorial about their food culture. Anyway, in the pictures I saw of Sichuan pickles, they look nothing like kimchi. Is any pickled vegetable dish Chinese now? What about takuan?

  • drew vagabu

    why’re you guys so obsessed with china? who cares what some random chinese dude is ranting about.

  • wangkon936

    China is big and encompasses many different cultures and peoples. Thus, it has inherited in a sense many different kinds of cultural traditions aside from its core Yellow river and Yangtze river central plains civilization.

    Thus, you can make an argument that many things are of “Chinese Origin.” You can argue that chess is of Chinese origin. You can argue that pasta is of Chinese origin. I recently found out that katsup might be from China as well. Noodles are probably from northern nomads, chess is probably from India and apparently the Indonesians had a role with the Chinese in inventing katsup, but any ways, I digress.

    The point is that just because a certain section of China may have something similar within the national boundaries of China does not mean China owns it or was the origin of it. They need to have more than something that’s similar to something that’s popular in order to claim it as theirs. A clear genealogy needs to be demonstrated and they also need to promote and popularize it too. If not then they need to STFU.

  • wangkon936

    A little borderline there Mr. SMS.

  • ChuckRamone

    This is about an article that was in the SCMP about a guy who works at a museum. It’s not like we’re discussing some random comment on a blog.

  • redwhitedude

    China is not wealthy yet. All those chinese that are wealthy probably got their wealthy by either taking bribes or being related to somebody who is taking lots of bribes(i.e. works for local or national government).

  • redwhitedude

    China trying to cause a food fight.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Can you honestly say you don’t mutter it to yourself, perhaps under your nose, or in silent soliloquy, on a semi-regular basis these days?

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    China is, was and for a long time still will be cheap labor. Its a pyramid. The vast cheap labor is robbed by the parasitic class.

  • redwhitedude

    It’s because of its vast population and access to vast labor force that keeps it cheap which is a disincentive to mechanize as demonstrated in the industrial revolution. This is one reason that historians cite there are others. China cannot get wealthy as quickly as Japan or Korea due to its sheer size. But there are other reasons that could explain why china may not succeed as well as Japan or Korea.

  • redwhitedude

    I find it amusing that they claim other cultures as their own because they have such minority.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    And Chinese people do not eat Sichuan pickles with almost every single meal. He’s completely missing the point. Kimchi didn’t make the list because of its culinary value, rather because it is a ubiquitous symbol of Korean culture.

    Maybe China could lobby for government corruption to be added to the UNESCO list. Not uniquely endemic to China, but they’ve mastered the art.

  • wangkon936

    Imagine The EU as one big giant country. You have Romance language speakers to the west and south. You have Germanic language speakers to the north and center and Slavic and Uralic language speakers in the south and center. Your core people group is Romance/Latin and Germanic.

    That’s China. What was many other countries and peoples divided into three main language groups (separate and mutually unintelligible languages, not mutually intelligible “dialects”): Mandarin, Shanghainese and Cantonese. China is an Asian version of Europe that never completely fragmented.

  • wangkon936

    Nah, not really. I have too many Chinese American friends to think like that too often. I did think mainland China was dirty when I was there last year. Well, maybe not dirty per se but certainly “developing.”

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ Kuiwon

    The word Kimchi and the dialect word Ji for it are actually both corruptions of the Sino-Korean words Chimchae (沈菜, 침채) and Jeo (菹, 저), the former of which is of Korean coinage.

    Pickled vegetables in general have been in China for a long time. The first reference of pickled vegetables is actually in the Classic of Poetry (詩經, 시경), the oldest collection of Chinese poetry dating as far back as the 11th century BC. This doesn’t answer whether Sichuan Pickle gave birth to Kimchi, however.

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ Kuiwon

    Some of the most vitrolic things I’ve heard about Chinese people were from my non-mainland Chinese friends from Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

  • wangkon936

    This is true. My Taiwanese and S’pore friends told me to “watch out” for nasty “mainlander germs” during my stay in the PRC.

    To more developed Chinese of Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong the mainlanders in the PRC are like the country bumkin 3rd cousins who don’t get invited to the wedding and are constantly insulted upon for their odd, backwards ways.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    You are giving an explanation; I was simply stating what is. As it stands now, China is a 2 layered pyramid with a massive base of rock bottom cheap labor and a small layer of privileged parasites. China is about theft: they steal from each other and they steal from the world. Nothing is coming out if China that didn’t first have to go in. Its a massive factory for the realization of foreign ideas. A country of a billion and a half people with absolutely no innovative streak.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    The EU is not a “single country” and any such imaginings are purely offensive and an insult to the constituent nationalities of Europe.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    You’ve narrowed the corruption too tightly. It is not government specialty but rather a way of life.

  • wangkon936

    Yep. I know that. That was sorta my point with “China.”

  • SeoulGoodman

    Or someone’s trying to justify the stir they are causing in the Yellow Sea (“Yeah, but they stole our pickles!”).

  • seoulite

    ‘The point is that just because a certain section of China may have something similar within the national boundaries of China does not mean China owns it or was the origin of it. They need to have more than something that’s similar to something that’s popular in order to claim it as theirs. A clear genealogy needs to be demonstrated and they also need to do some work to promote and popularize it too. If not then they need to STFU.’

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/12/386_148109.html

    ‘But there wasn’t any really significant success until Hunan TV purchased the rights to remake the Korean popular singing contest “I Am a Singer.”
    The Chinese version of “I Am a Singer” aired on China’s Hunan TV became the first program to show the great potential of exporting Korean style-entertainment to China.’

    ‘In fact, since airing the Chinese version of “I Am a Singer,” more Korean entertainment franchises are being sought by broadcasters there.’

    That’s Korea, the originator of reality TV exporting ‘their’ product to China.

    Sure, those Chinese claiming all things originate from China are as nutty. But they’re not exactly the only ones in East Asia to be doing so.

  • RElgin

    I am more interested in what they can do with this technology.

  • RElgin

    That is too easy and mean.

  • RElgin

    Man, I *so* do not like your pickle recipe.

  • redwhitedude

    China is trying to be a melting pot a la US to dry demolish any distinctions among its own people. As to Han designation it is no different than calling it a nationality as in passport holders of a country with no ties to ethnicity.

  • redwhitedude

    Their space program is a transplant of russian space tech. However the guy that is considered the father of chinese space program was a chinese american.

  • redwhitedude

    Not much as china is not really an innovative country.

  • djson1

    I agree..I just looked up Sichuan pickles and they remind me of kosher pickles or something they put on Italian Beef sandwiches in Chicago! I was picturing something that looked like Korean pickle kimchi “oi” when I read the article.

  • djson1

    Although I would agree with your generalization of the socio-economic description of China about 15 years ago, it is far from the truth in China today. Just one ie- China is not home to rock bottom cheap labor anymore. Hasn’t been that way for over 5 years now.

  • ChuckRamone

    Kimchi has more of a sauce on it. Sichuan pickles look like they’ve simply been soaking in a brine.

  • wangkon936

    Uh, but the Chinese are insisting that the Han are one ethnicity, which is a myth.

    http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/elliott/files/critical_han_studies_ch8_elliott.pdf

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Strictly said, no, but it is just cheap enough to justify paying more simply to avoid having to move manufacturing elsewhere. I wish the Western companies left China en masse, but it won’t happen yet.

  • wangkon936

    People in colder climates tend to do the pickling because it’s the ideal way to preserve vegetables when the peak growing season is short. Due to Korea’s proximity to Manchuria and Siberia and inherent sharing of Siberian and Manchurian weather patterns, Southern Manchuria and the Korean peninsula is generally colder than the core Chinese civilization centers between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers (i.e. the Chinese central plains) despite its similar latitude. Thus, there is very little surprise that pickled vegetables became a more prominent part of the Korean diet than in the Chinese core central plains civilization.

  • wangkon936

    Nowhere in that article made the claim that Korea originated the “reality TV” show. Quite the contrary, the article states that China is imitating “Korean style-entertainment” which is quite different.

  • wangkon936

    I am somewhat disturbed that seven people “liked” your comment.

  • redwhitedude

    Next up for China is beating the middle income trap. Will they be able to beat it considering how the country is being run?

  • redwhitedude

    Wait until they develop their own knowledge and find that somebody else is stealing from them. I wonder if they’ll even get their because the way they do things will not encourage knowledge accumulation which is what a developed nation does.

  • redwhitedude

    They must be blind. People from different regions display very distinct features.

  • redwhitedude

    “They stole our fish”

  • redwhitedude

    Yup. It’s gotten to the point that every time I hear of Chinese with wads of cash hitting US shores and buying homes in one lumpsum cash payment I assume it is corruption. Somebody made a killing taking bribes. It’s like the chinese don’t feel that there is anything wrong with it. If they wanna whack somebody just throw in this charge very convenient.

  • redwhitedude

    What do they call these mainlanders? Locusts?

  • redwhitedude

    It’s like the issue with Arirang. They are awfully greedy. Peaceful rise?? I think not.

  • EternalAppleTree

    And you’re a fucking kike. Why don’t you nation wrecking kikes stay out of gentile nations?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubdryMHLvVc

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Did I strike a nerve, you stupid Chinese loser?

  • takasar1

    yes, because the rich can’t make money without it being corruption? how stupid

  • redwhitedude

    That’s how a lot of them get rich. It isn’t their entrepreneurship that got them rich. Says a lot about the country’s legal system.

  • takasar1

    you obviously know nothing about the country aside from what you got from textbooks written in the 1990s. no innovation? those on the inside beg to disagree

  • redwhitedude

    Where’s the innovation in China in modern times? Since when was China innovative since 1949?

  • takasar1

    huawei, lenovo, alibaba, xiaomi and more have all mastered the first and second stages of innovation. you proved my point, your knowledge regarding contemporary china is sorely lacking

  • takasar1

    yes of course, i also say ‘nigger’, ‘cracker’, ‘kikes’, ‘gook’, ‘beaner’ too. but what you say under your breath should stay there

  • takasar1

    oh wow…you haven’t been there have you? either that or you base your understanding off of the 2003 version

  • takasar1

    i don’t understand the beef, they’re both disgusting

  • redwhitedude

    I hardly hear those brands as being leaders. More like followers. Lenovo got big because they bought what somebody else built like IBMs PC business.

  • takasar1

    firstly, are we talking about brand leaders? no, these firms prioritize innovation. that was your question and i answered it. ‘followers’, yeah right…huawei is a world leader, as is lenovo in the PC business, alibaba is probably the biggest of its kind throughout the world and xiaomi was only begun in 2009/2010. i am guessing you don’t know much about M&A, especially the fact that the takeover firms shares often fall post-acquisition highlighting how most M&As fail. the fact that lenovo was able to turn such a struggling firm around points to strong CG and management abilities. they became the third largest PC maker post acquisition and today they are no1, what does that tell you? like i said, you seem to know extremely little about the country’s economy/business climate. even asking regarding post 1978 innovation is extremely redundant, its like asking where US innovation was 1800-1840.

  • wangkon936

    When I was in business school we read business case studies on Huawei, Lenovo and Alibaba and what I learned is that the main value proposition that these companies have at this time is scale, not innovation. Alibaba is big not because it’s good but because it’s a web site that’s in Chinese and A LOT of people read Chinese.

    What Korea has been able to accomplish is more impressive because it never has had China’s scale to leverage off of. 1.4 billion consumers, 1.4 billion workers, a massive captive Chinese reading audience, a highly educated, ready built and huge educated expatriate community. Korea has been able to build global companies and brands without ready access to these kinds of resources.