Often requiring many hands and hours of labor, gimjang, in which large batches of kimchi are made for the coming winter, appears to be on its way out. Increasingly, people make kimchi throughout the year in smaller amounts or buy it at stores.
Yet, kimchi remains a staple on Korean dining tables and people want more healthy choices when it comes to something that they consume daily.
Dongwon F&B's Yangban Kimchi has been conducting its Gimjang Tour since 1999. These tours take place at the company's kimchi factory in Jincheon, North Chungcheong Province. Visitors tour the facility guided by experts and have the opportunity to make their own kimchi with their preferred taste. The workshop exclusively uses ingredients from Korea. After gimjang is completed, the finished kimchi is sent to the participant's home via parcel delivery.
The Yangban Kimchi Gimjang Tour operates from Monday to Dec. 8 and can be reserved at Dongwon Mall's official webpage until Dec. 6.
"This program was initially designed for those who have always wanted to experience gimjang but never had the chance, so we see many young participants eager to take up the challenge," an official at Dongwon F&B told The Korea Herald.
The tour costs 53,000 won, which covers a kilogram of kimchi, typically one head of lettuce, round-trip bus fare, a bossam lunch with different types of kimchi and quick-bite snacks. Each tour accommodates up to 40 participants and two tours are given per day.
Meanwhile, at Sanghanongwon, an agricultural theme park located in Gochang, North Jeolla Province, a gimjang experience program will be available from Nov. 10 to Dec. 10. Sanghanongwon is known for hosting various programs, such as making sausages, cheese or interacting with animals on the farm. While most programs are available year-round, the gimjang program only operates for a limited time in the fall.
The program lasts approximately one hour and allows participants to experience the entire kimchi-making process, from harvesting cabbage grown on the farm to mixing the ingredients and seasoning the cabbage with sea salt from the Gochang getbol, tidal flats, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Radishes, mustard leaves and chives from the farm are used, along with salted shrimp and red pepper powder produced in Korea.
The tour costs 65,000 won per person and covers making five kilograms of kimchi and delivery to home. Online reservation is required. The program is not available on Mondays.
For those who prefer to watch experts make kimchi and hopefully be inspired to make their own, a Kimchi Party is taking place in Gwangju, Friday to Monday at Sangmu Civic Park. The festival highlight is the kimchi-making competition where skilled participants demonstrate gimjang on stage.
At the festival, visitors can purchase kimchi at a discounted price, buying directly from the producers.
An exhibition showcasing the history of kimchi and various styles of kimchi found around the country will be held during the festival. In addition, a unique kimchi pop-up store offers kimchi-related goods for purchase. For those interested in making kimchi, one-day gimjang classes are available, from beginner to master levels, depending on the visitor's schedule and preference.