lørdag 21. august 2021

Kimchi's new Chinese name has become the epicenter of a cultural war ... again

More than just a spicy staple served in Korean households and restaurants around the world, kimchi -- the iconic fermented vegetable dish -- has once again become the subject of a cultural feud between China and South Korea. The latest salvo in the long-running culinary battle was fired in July, when South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism released a notice that it's amending the official guidelines on "the appropriate foreign language" for a few Korean foods. 

Among them is a stipulation that xinqi is to be the new, official Chinese name for kimchi. The old common translation, pao cai (salted fermented vegetables), would be retired. The issue stems from the fact there's no Chinese character to represent the pronunciation of kimchi. As a result, the Ministry of Agriculture reportedly considered some 4,000 Chinese characters before deciding on xinqi, claiming that it sounded kind of like kimchi.

Xinqi (辛奇) consists of two Chinese characters: Xin means spicy. Qi means unique, or curious. With the new name, the Seoul government hopes to draw a clear line between Korean kimchi and Chinese pickled vegetables -- the latter of which are called pao cai (泡菜) in China.