Yough Pioneer Tours

North Korean Kimchi

North and South Korea might be separated by the most heavily militarized border in the world – ironically called the DMZ – and they might be ideologically opposed, but there are a few things that unite them. Such things include the story of Arirang, the deceptively powerful rice wine soju, and of course the eternally beloved Korean delicacy of kimchi.

Which Korea is best at which Korean thing is an endless debate, and kimchi is naturally part of that debate. On this particular issue, I have to count myself firmly in the Northern camp. North Korean kimchi tends to be spicier and lacks the uniformly bland ‘mass-produced’ qualities of its Southern counterpart.

With this in mind, we have used our significant connections in the underground Pyongyang kimchi scene to bring you an exclusive recipe for kimchi made the Northern way!

North Korean Kimchi


500g Korean cabbage

    2 litres of water

    1/4 cup salt

    1 tsp shrimp paste

    120g daikon radish

    2 spring onion

    1/6 cup Korean red pepper powder

    1/8 cup Korean fish sauce

    1/8 cup minced (real) ginger

    1 tsp minced garlic

    1 tsp coconut sugar

    1 tsp smoked paprika

How to make North Korean Kimchi

  • Cut the cabbage in half, then quarters, then keep going until you have little pieces discarding the outer parts;
  • Soak the cabbage in salty water and cover for around 24 hours. Regularly change the saltwater and keep at room temperature;
  • Drain the cabbage in a colander and rinse with cold water;
  • Grab the rest of your ingredients and start staring it like a man (or woman; women can cook too) possessed;
  • Pack the mixture tightly into a clean 500ml glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and seal it;
  • Put it in a cool dark place and let it ferment for the next 24 hours;
  • Open the jar and place the kimchi into a large bowl;
  • Sprinkle with salt and toss with your hands until the cabbage is coated. Add enough cold water to keep the cabbage slightly submerged. leave for up to 24 hours;
  • Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and transfer to a sealable jar;
  • Seal the jar and periodically let the gas escape. You need to wait at least 48 hours before eating the kimchi, although the best results will take at least a week. Or you could go full Korean and bury it for a month!

That’s our North Korean kimchi recipe: let us know how it works for you!

Sample the real thing for yourself on our DPRK culinary tour