Cabbage Crisis: South Korea Runs Out of Kimchi

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If Kim Jong-Il’s antics couldn’t throw South Korea into a panic, it looks like a shortage of napa cabbage will. (via NPR)

Kimchi, a signature Korean dish consisting of cabbage fermented in chili paste and a variety of other ingredients, is a staple in Korean cuisine. The spicy substance is often served as a side dish in meals, or mixed into stews for an extra punch.

However, due to a freak combination of weather that ruined this year’s crop of napa cabbage, the variety of vegetable used in the most popular variants of kimchi, prices for heads of napa cabbage have soared from the typical $4 per head to $14. That’s a 350 percent increase.

This price explosion has led to some drastic measures including kimchi rationing and for one desperate kimchi craver stealing 10 heads of cabbage straight from a field.

So what’s South Korea’s solution to this national crisis? Turn to the Chinese. (See photos of Shanghai’s World Expo)

As an emergency measure, the South Korean government has temporarily frozen tariffs on Chinese cabbage to help stabilize prices in their domestic market. Thus, China’s influence on the region expands ever further.

One bowl of kimchi at a time.

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