Few foods are more quintessentially Korean than kimchi. The fermented side dish, made of cabbage or vegetables, is served at every meal. Each autumn, during a period called kimjang season, households pool their resources so they can make enough homemade kimchi to last the entire community until spring. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un wants to increase his nation’s kimchi production by building factories that produce the spicy staple in each province of the country.

The source of Kim’s inspiration reportedly came from the brand-new Ryugyong Pickle Factory, which, Agence France-Presse reports, was built near the North Korean capital city of Pyongyang to supply residents with a steady stream of kimchi. According to the city’s state-controlled news agency KCNA, the plant was built under “the loving care" of Kim, and produces a staggering 4200 tons of the dish per year.

Kim recently visited the Ryungyong Factory—which expedites the processing, fermentation, and ripening processes behind kimchi-making—and lauded it as “exemplary.” (You can watch a video of his tour above, courtesy of press agency Explore DPRK.) He called for North Koreans to build even more modern kimchi plants with high industrial potential, one in each province, The Korea Times writes.

"Kimchi is widely known as one of the world's top five health foods, and one of the most loved foods of our people," KCNA quotes Kim as saying. 

Of course, UPI points out that Kim’s visit to Ryungyong Factory could be little more than propaganda. Over the past month he’s toured multiple North Korean factories, including a new soap factory, a salt plant, a hospital, and a factory producing sports goods. However, the ruler still hasn’t come up with a strategy to bolster the nation’s flailing economy.

This isn’t the first time that kimchi has made national headlines in recent months. Last fall, it was reported that North Koreans faced a winter without kimchi after droughts and monsoons hurt the country’s vegetable harvests.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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