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Kimjang with the Curative Plate Family

Hello everyone. I hope you are enjoying your end-of-the-year festivities, sharing with friends or family, ending what has been a trying year with the never-ending pandemic and preparing for a fresh start full of wonderful things in the New Year.

At the end of the year for Koreans, usually late fall or early winter depending on favorable weather, it's Kimjang (김장) season. Kimjang is the preparation of kimchi in large batches that will last a Korean household for the whole of the next year. Unlike the weekly batches we make at The Curative Plate, this traditionally large-scale community operation brings neighbors and local families together to make large quantities that will sustain all of their households for the year following. It's a time of sharing, exchanging recipes and food, and bonding, ensuring no one will go without.

© Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, 2012

Nowadays, especially in urban areas, the scale is much smaller, usually just the immediate family making kimchi on their living room floor. But the underlying traditions and benefits remain the same. It is as much about bringing the family together, the hierarchy, and the passing-on of handed-down recipes as it once was about survival. The whole idea of it warms my heart, as things like this can be rare now. If you are interested in watching a video about the whole tradition and process, I’ll link a great one here that goes into much more depth than I did.

© Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, 2013

As a Non-Korean, I am fascinated by the commitment to tradition and family that Kimjang preserves (pun intended). This year I was lucky enough to be invited to the Park house for Kimjang, and the celebratory meal afterward. Rachel put it together in a video on our YouTube channel for you all to see, and I’ll link that here. I think I've been adopted by the Parks now, and it really was a pleasure and honor to be included.

What traditions do you have for the end of the year? Are they food-based? Family-based? Or perhaps you’d like to start your own? Let me know in the comments below. We can share based on our online community here, helping each other out. After all, isn’t family one of the best things about Kimjang?

Rachel, Vicky, and Mom Park

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