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Exports of kimchi hit all-time high

Posted January. 18, 2022 07:53,   

Updated January. 18, 2022 07:53


South Korea’s export volume of kimchi has jumped by over 10% year-on-year, hitting an all-time high. The imports of kimchi, on the other hand, have fallen, nudging into the black for the first time in 12 years. The boost is attributable to the increasing popularity of Korean culture across the globe.

According to Korea Customs Service, the exports of kimchi posted 159.92 million U.S. dollars last year, surging by 10.7% from the previous year and hitting the record highs for two years running. The amount of kimchi exports soared by 37.6% from the pandemic year of 2020, reaching an all-time high in eight years. Among the many importers of Korean kimchi, Japan took up the biggest chunk of 50.1% or 80.12 million dollars, followed by America (28.25 million dollars), Hong Kong (7.72 million dollars), and Taiwan (6.81 million dollars).

“The surging popularity of K-Waves and COVID-19 helped boost the exports of kimchi,” an official from the customs office explained. “The heated interests in South Korea that had been rekindled by K-Pop and K-Content have translated into a soaring demand of kimchi.” Another factor at work was kimchi’s perception as health food that strengthens the immune system against the backdrop of the pandemic.

By contrast, kimchi’s imports shrank by 7.7% from last year to 140.74 million dollars, marking the steepest fall since 2014 (-11.1%). Thanks to the soaring exports and decreasing imports, kimchi posted a surplus worth 19.18 million dollars. Last time, Korea posted profits in kimchi trade was in 2009 when it earned 23.05 million dollars in surplus. The plummeting imports of kimchi were mainly ascribable to the viral footage from China where a man was making kimchi all naked inside a tank full of cabbages. Most products of the imported kimchi in South Korea are from China.

Hee-Chang Park ramblas@donga.com