With many of the YPT staff having traveled several times to both North and South Korea we often find ourselves sitting down to a meal with Kimchi as a compulsory staple. As with most things on the peninsula, there are subtle differences. The language is the same but has some small differences (similar to British vs. American English), Soju is prominent (though again with slight differences) and so naturally kimchi while very similar has some subtle differences.
So, what are they?
Firstly, Kimchi in the south tends to have a more reddish colour than the north. North Korean Kimchi tends to be a lighter shade due to the number of chilies added. Unless you are an avid kimchi consumer however, you will sometimes not be able to tell. Kimchi is also sometimes homemade, which means everyone has their own way of doing it!
You’re probably all wondering though what is the difference in taste?
The lighter colour of Kimchi found in North Korea means it is often less spicy than Kimchi in the South. However, the lessened spice and lighter colour means it has a little more of a sour taste. This is a generalised statement of course and comes from our own experience in the country.
The real question we know people are thinking is:
“which is better? North or South Korean Kimchi”.
The answer to which is: both!
A cop-out, we know, however kimchi is like most things, it’s based on personal preferences! It’s like asking is wine better in France or Italy? Everyone has their own opinion and this question will never be answered (despite what your French or Italian mates might say).