By Kim Tong-hyung
UNESCO will likely register kimchi, the staple Korean side-dish of fermented cabbage, as a cultural heritage, the government said Wednesday.
According to the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), UNESCO's Subsidiary Body, which evaluates new candidates for UNESCO registration, issued a recommendation to list "Kimjang; Making and Sharing Kimchi'' as an intangible cultural heritage asset. The UNESCO will make the final decision in early December. It has never rejected a recommendation from the body, the CHA said.
Korea currently has 15 cultural elements on UNESCO's intangible heritage list, including the old, drum-backed song genre of "pansori,'' annual memorial services at the Jongmyo Shrine for deceased Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) monarchs and the traditional Dano Festival in the seaside town of Gangneung.
"The Subsidiary Body has highly evaluated kimchi and the culture of making the dish because it found them an essential part in maintaining the cohesiveness of Korean communities, as well as the food being an essential part in Koreans' cultural identity,'' said a CHA official.
The government proposed kimchi for UNESCO registration in March 2012. The Chinese abacus and Japan's traditional food culture were also among 23 recommendations issued by the Subsidiary Body.
UNESCO currently has four food cultures as heritage ― French, Mexican, Mediterranean and Turkish ― and Japanese officials have expressed hope that the potential inclusion of its food culture will help improve the reputation of its foodstuff that took a hit from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
UNESCO will announce the new additions to its list during its Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage conference scheduled from Dec. 2 to 7 in Baku, Azerbaijan.