North Koreans Might Face a Winter Without Kimchi

Kirstin Fawcett
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In Korea, kimchi isn’t just any ordinary food. The fermented cabbage dish is essential to national identity, and served at every meal from breakfast to dinner. However,The Guardian reports that tables across North Korea might be bereft of the spicy staple this winter.

Late autumn marks a period called kimjang season, in which households pool their resources and make enough kimchi to sustain the entire local community throughout the long, cold winter months. But according to the Daily NK, droughts and monsoons have impacted the country’s vegetable harvests, causing many families to forgo kimjang season altogether due to a lack of basic ingredients.

Collective farms are producing less produce, and available rations are being sent to military bases and flood-filled regions—meaning that annual household allocations will likely decrease this year. As a result, prices for cabbages and radishes have soared. Other essentials—such as chilies, garlic, onions, and salt—are also in short supply.

Thanks to this scarcity, Daily NK estimates that it will now cost an average four-person family 3 million North Korean won to acquire the requisite supplies for kimjang—a dramatic increase from the usual 1.5 million. That's a high price to pay for a dish that defines a nation, and for a food that many individuals rely on for basic sustenance.

[h/t The Guardian]