HomeInternationalXinqi? Why kimchi is getting a new Chinese name

Xinqi? Why kimchi is getting a new Chinese name

(CNN) — More than simply a spicy staple served in Korean households and eating places around the globe, kimchi — the enduring fermented vegetable dish — has as soon as once more develop into the topic of a cultural feud between China and South Korea.

Among them is a stipulation that xinqi is to be the new, official Chinese name for kimchi. The outdated widespread translation, pao cai (salted fermented greens), could be retired.

The challenge stems from the very fact there isn’t any Chinese character to signify the pronunciation of kimchi. As a end result, the Ministry of Agriculture reportedly thought of some 4,000 Chinese characters earlier than deciding on xinqi, claiming that it sounded form of like kimchi.

Xinqi (辛奇) consists of two Chinese characters: Xin means spicy. Qi means distinctive, or curious.

With the new name, the Seoul authorities hopes to attract a clear line between Korean kimchi and Chinese pickled greens — the latter of that are known as pao cai (泡菜) in China.

“With the use of word ‘xinqi’ for Kimchi in Chinese, the ministry expects Korean kimchi and Chinese pao cai are differentiated clearly and the awareness of South Korea’s traditional dish, kimchi will be raised in China,” the discharge mentioned.

The new guideline is mandated for the South Korean authorities and affiliated organizations. But it is solely a advice for personal South Korean firms that must translate the phrase kimchi into Chinese, along with Chinese media discussing the Korean dish.

Nonetheless it has kicked off a wave of heated debates amongst media and netizens in each international locations.

What’s the distinction between kimchi and pao cai?

Before diving any additional into the quarrel, one ought to perceive the distinction between kimchi and pao cai.

Kimchi is a collective time period for greater than 100 varieties of fermented greens in Korea, but it surely mostly refers to fermented napa cabbage with seasonings, together with pink chili pepper, garlic, ginger and salted seafood.

Fermented greens made with totally different elements like chonggak kimchi (fermented radish kimchi) or with decrease spice ranges similar to baek kimchi (non-spicy white cabbage kimchi) additionally fall beneath the kimchi umbrella.

 A kimchi-making festival in Goesan, South Korea, on November 7, 2020. Much of the factory-made kimchi eaten in South Korea now comes from China.

A kimchi-making pageant in Goesan, South Korea, on November 7, 2020. Much of the factory-made kimchi eaten in South Korea now comes from China.

Jun Michael Park/The New York Times/Redux

Pao cai, then again, actually means “soaked vegetables” in Chinese. That’s as a result of pickled greens are sometimes made by soaking several types of greens, from cabbages to carrots, in a saline answer, with or with out seasonings. The jars of greens are then fermented at room temperature.

Because they bear some similarities, kimchi is sometimes called “hanguo pao cai,” which suggests “Korean fermented vegetables,” in China.

Not the primary time

This is not South Korea’s first try at making “xinqi” the de facto Chinese name for kimchi.

In 2013, the Ministry of Agriculture lobbied for a new name in response to the rising variety of China-produced kimchi merchandise in abroad markets, in addition to in South Korea’s home market. Since 2006, South Korea has been struggling a kimchi commerce deficit with China. From 2007 to 2011, the nation’s imports of kimchi merchandise from China elevated by at the least tenfold.

On the flipside, that very same 12 months South Korea succeeded in getting “kimjang,” the custom of creating and sharing kimchi, inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage in 2013, making the dish a proud “cultural symbol of Korea.”

A spicy sauce used to make kimchi is prepared during a traditional process known as 'kimjang', at a home in the South Korean port city of Donghae in 2020.

A spicy sauce used to make kimchi is ready throughout a conventional course of referred to as ‘kimjang’, at a dwelling within the South Korean port metropolis of Donghae in 2020.

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

“Kimchi is South Korea’s national dish, not only because Koreans consume it for nearly every meal, but also it is the most well-known Korean food in the world — many Westerners still cannot distinguish gimbap from sushi, but can recognize that kimchi is from Korea,” says Elaine Chung, a lecturer in Chinese Studies at Cardiff University and a researcher in East Asia Studies.

Chung’s work primarily focuses on Chinese and Korean cultures, and he or she carried out intensive analysis on the influence of calling kimchi “xinqi” as an alternative of “pao cai” again in 2014. She tells CNN Travel that the controversy has grown much more intense since then.

“When I wrote that paper, the controversy over kimchi/xinqi was largely a social media row between Chinese and Korean netizens. But this time, it seems to have a much greater impact on the offline world,” she says.

“The government’s announcement of the new name can be seen as a response to its own people, showing them it is doing something to fight back for ownership over kimchi.”

BTS will get caught up within the drama

Why the necessity to battle again now? Renewed curiosity in kimchi’s Chinese name emerged after a collection of cultural conflicts over the past 12 months.

In November 2020, China obtained an IOS certificates for Sichuan pao cai. In an article revealed by China’s state media, Global Times, the author proclaimed that “Sichuan pao cai has become the international standard” for the pao cai business.

“The so-called ‘Kimchi (Pao Cai) Sovereign State’ has long existed in name only,” mentioned the article.

South Korean netizens and media had been unimpressed, calling the report an try and “steal” kimchi and Korean tradition.

The challenge rekindled sturdy anti-Chinese sentiment, spurring elevated cries to “cancel Chinese culture in South Korea.”

Footage of a seemingly bare man soaked in a pool of cabbages and brown liquid in a Chinese kimchi manufacturing unit, titled “China’s obnoxious kimchi factory” was shared on YouTube and by South Korean media shops, additional fueling the strain.
The South Korea authorities has made different makes an attempt to distinguish the 2. Earlier this 12 months a new e-book about kimchi was revealed by the nation’s nationwide promotional company, together with a part highlighting how totally different pao cai is from kimchi.
In 2013, kimjang -- the tradition of making and sharing kimchi -- was incribed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage.

In 2013, kimjang — the custom of creating and sharing kimchi — was incribed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage.

Ed Jones/ AFP/Getty Images

But it did not ease the strain, with the feud shifting past the culinary world and into the tourism and leisure sectors.

The plan to construct a “Chinatown” vacationer web site in Gangwon Province was known as off in April this 12 months after hundreds of netizens signed a petition. Meanwhile, the TV interval drama Joseon Exorcist was scrapped after simply two episodes, with the general public protesting in opposition to scenes that characteristic the protagonist sporting Chinese-style costumes, ingesting Chinese liquor and consuming Chinese meals like mooncakes and Chinese dumplings.

Even the members of Okay-Pop group BTS discovered themselves caught up within the drama.

When a program starring the band translated kimchi as “pao cai” within the Chinese subtitles in June, many South Korean netizens exploded in anger. Comments claimed the interpretation helped promote Chinese pao cai.

Naver, South Korea’s largest search engine and the web platform behind the present, defined that the interpretation was in accordance with the newest translation tips supplied by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

“We will change the problematic subtitles once we receive new guidelines,” a Naver spokesperson informed the Korea Herald following the incident.

About a month later, the ministry issued its new tips on xinqi, bringing us again to the current.

What’s totally different this time?

Some firms have already reacted to the name change.

Naver’s translation software has revised the Chinese translation of kimchi to xinqi. On world South Korean meals model Bibigo’s Chinese web site, the kimchi product web page is additionally translated as xinqi.

But the new name would not appear to enchantment to both Chinese or Korean netizens.

On Chinese social media web site Weibo, feedback on tales concerning the new name are principally unfavourable. Some refuse to make use of the time period, saying they suppose kimchi is a dish influenced by Chinese pao cai. Others say they acknowledge the distinction however don’t love being informed find out how to translate kimchi in Chinese.

Women prepare cabbage to make kimchi during the traditional communal process known as 'kimjang.'

Women put together cabbage to make kimchi through the conventional communal course of referred to as ‘kimjang.’

Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Image

“I don’t understand why we have to respond to the translation ‘xinqi’ proposed by Koreans. Shouldn’t language develop following the users’ habits?” one consumer mentioned.

The tried name change failed in 2013 as a result of most Chinese-speaking individuals didn’t use the time period, notes Chung. That’s unlikely to alter now.

“It is difficult to persuade people to use an empty signifier — as the combination of the two Chinese characters does not mean anything in Chinese — to replace a term they have used for years,” says Chung.

Also, the name xinqi will not be acknowledged legally in China.

The doc issued by the Korean authorities known as for South Korean firms exporting kimchi to China to be cautious, as Chinese legislation states that firms have to make use of names acquainted to Chinese customers.

That signifies that companies could not be capable to use the time period “xinqi” alone to explain kimchi; they’re going to nonetheless must label it as pao cai.

The new tips mentioned the Agriculture Ministry would advise firms affected by the name change, with out offering additional rationalization.

“There are also opinions that Korea is appropriating its own traditional culture for the Chinese, as the pronunciation of xinqi is quite different from that of kimchi. It is argued that since Kimchi (in Korean pronunciation) is internationally recognized already, the government should not invent a Chinese term by compromising the authentic Korean sound,” says Chung.

“It is a big mistake that the Korean government voluntarily came up with a bizarre term — xinqi — to promote kimchi and differentiate it from China’s pao cai. It can obscure the meaning of kimchi, a proud name already known around the world,” Kim wrote within the opinion piece.

Under these circumstances, it is troublesome to foretell whether or not the newest try to alter kimchi’s Chinese name will likely be extra profitable.

But, as Chung says, “it will likely do little to end the ongoing popular culture war” over the famed dish.

CNN’s Yoonjung Seo contributed to this characteristic.

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