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Vietnamese brides learn to make kimchi

Around 40 Vietnamese women who are either already married to, or will marry, Korean men, joined a two-hour kimchi- and kimbap-making class organized on September 6 by Kim & Kim Company and the Korean Language Education Center in Ho Chi Minh City.

Kim Tae Kon, founder of Ong Kim’s kimchi brand helps a learner at a kimchi- and kimbap-making class held by Kim & Kim Company and the Korean Language Education Center in Ho Chi Minh City for Vietnamese wives of Korean men on September 6, 2014.
Kim Tae Kon, founder of Ong Kim’s kimchi brand helps a learner at a kimchi- and kimbap-making class held by Kim & Kim Company and the Korean Language Education Center in Ho Chi Minh City for Vietnamese wives of Korean men on September 6, 2014.

Since April this year, foreigners have been required to be able to communicate with their Korean husbands or wives to obtain a spousal visa, according to the Korean government.

Foreigners who apply for the visa have to pass level 1 of the Test of Proficiency in Korean administered by the National Institute for International Education in South Korea, the Korean Times reported.

The kimchi and kimbap class at Kim & Kim Company’s factory in Tan Binh Industrial Zone, located in Ho Chi Minh City, was part of a language program offered by the Korean Language Education Center, as established by the Korean Ministry of Education.

The main ingredients for kimchi include cabbage, garlic, chili powder, onion, ginger, salt and sugar. Delicious kimchi also requires a little fish sauce, a common spice used by Vietnamese.

Kim Tae Kon, director of Kim & Kim Company, who founded the popular Ong Kim’s kimchi brand in Vietnam, said there are around 300 different kinds of kimchi, and it is hard to remember them all.

“All of these Vietnamese women who are going to live in Korea must eat kimchi every day, three meals a day. I’m pleased to give them the chance to learn how to make kimchi. Sooner or later, they must learn how to make kimchi. Of course, one hour is not enough, but at least they can be familiar with it when they go to Korea,” Kim Tae Kon, founder of Ong Kim’s kimchi brand said.

“I’m very happy to help them learn about Korean food and culture. If we talk about Korean culture, kimchi is the first icon we think of.”

Kimchi’s history in Korea goes back over 1,000 years. The fermented dish is considered the East Asian country’s national spirit. It is present in every Korean meal.

According to traditional Korean beliefs, kimchi reflects sharing, when people usually make the dish and share with people around them.

“Our Korean Language Education Center provides Korean language education for free to Vietnamese wives so they can learn some Korean before they go to Korea,” Han Ji Sook, director of the Korean Language Education Center in Ho Chi Minh City said.

“Kimchi is a typical Korean traditional food known worldwide. Kimchi is important for Korean people, so anyone who visits the country will experience kimchi or kimchi-making. Especially for the wives of Korean men, it’s important to know how to make kimchi. So our center has a special program for them to experience kimchi-making, and also other cultural experiences, like Korean costume wearing and Korean songs. But I think food is so important. Not only do you need language education, you also have to have an understanding of other cultural aspects to enjoy your life in another country,” she added.

Besides kimchi, the Vietnamese wives and wives-to-be of Korean men were also instructed on how to make kimbap, another iconic dish from the land of kimchi.

The participants had an interesting experience making the famous Korean rice rolls, which they thought would be easy, but perfecting them is difficult.

Kimbap is made from rice and other ingredients including parsnip, carrot, and tuna wrapped in a sheet of seaweed. The key to a good-looking roll of kimbap is rolling everything tightly so that all of the ingredients stick together and create an eye-catching dish.

The free class has been held once a month for around 30-35 women, and its aim is to offer them basic knowledge of their new life in South Korea.

After the class, many Vietnamese brides expressed confidence about their future life in the country of kimchi.

“Participating in this class helped me learn how to make kimchi and kimbap, two traditional dishes of Korea. Through the class I also came to know Mr. Kim, who is famous for his kimchi in Vietnam,” Oanh Kieu, 23, from the southern province of An Giang expressed.

“I feel so lucky that I was able to join this class because I can learn a lot about food, culture and even how to behave in my husband’s family. The teachers taught me a lot of useful things.”

“I want to say thank you to Mr. Kim for bringing me the joys of making kimchi and kimbap. It makes me more confident to be a bride in Korea,” Cam Tien, 21, from the southern province of Ca Mau said.