World Institute of Kimchi as a leading global institute of fermented foods



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“Kimchi” is a world famous fermentated food originating from Korean cuisine. It has many health benefits and in order to systematically understand kimchi, the Korean government has set up the World Institute of Kimchi (WIKIM) – read more about kimchi and WIKIM in this forum article. (Image © WIKIM)

The World Institute of Kimchi (WIKIM) is a government-affiliated research institute with the missions to conduct outstanding scientific research on kimchi of Korea as the “kimchi suzerain” and to contribute to globalization of kimchi by performing comprehensive R&D on kimchi. WIKIM will lead national technology innovation and develop the kimchi industry into a major representative food industry in Korea.

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The institute was established as an affiliate of the Korean Food Research Institute (KFRI) by the Korean government in January 2010, and Dr. Wan-Soo Park was appointed as the institute's first Chairman. The institute is committed to enhancing the establishment of a world-class fermented food research institute. WIKIM was relocated to the South District of Gwangju Metropolitan City at the end of October in 2012. Dr. Park has been directing the work of 25 research scientists, along with 9 administrative staff members, and 46 research technicians fulfilling kimchi-related research activities.

During the past 3 years, WIKIM has conducted extensive scientific research into the raw materials of kimchi, the manufacturing process, important micro-organisms and fermentation processes, preservation and packaging, safety and hygiene, and health benefits. WIKIM has also focused on industrial policy, marketing strategy and food culture for social studies of kimchi. In addition, it greatly contributes to the globalization of kimchi by characterizing its nutritional value and establishing marketing projects for the global market as well as international conferences to build information and personal networks.

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WIKIM has accomplished several outstanding achievements including 11 patent applications, 1 patent, 39 scientific publications and 1 technology transfer agreement. In addition, WIKIM offers various options to support many small or mid-size kimchi businesses by hosting WKISS (World Kimchi Information Service System, and a related task force service. WIKIM has the 9 memorandum of understanding (MoU) scattered across universities and related industries to support information exchange and has been developing its role as a control tower of R&D on kimchi.

WIKIM will undoubtedly play a role as a major hub for research institutes in the years to come by continuing to help the world enjoy excellent Korean fermented foods with many health benefits.

Eun-Young Kim, World Institute of Kimchi, E-mail:,

Kimchi is the soul of Korean cuisine

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of salted vegetables, including cabbage, radish, and cucumber, seasoned with red pepper powder, garlic, green onion, ginger, and jeotgal (salted and fermented seafood), among other ingredients, and then allowed to ferment. Kimchi, with over a millennium of tradition, has remained a classic delight for all generations and all regions of Korea, and is enjoyed by a growing number of kimchi-lovers across the globe.

Kimchi is a world-class health food. Kimchi contains a higher concentration and a wider range of lactic acid than other types of fermented food, as it undergoes two stages of initial salting and secondary seasoning. Kimchi is proven to be rich in functional and bioactive substances with outstanding immune-boosting, anti-cancer, thrombolytic, and anti-aging effects. In fact, kimchi was selected as one of the world's five most healthy foods by Health, an American magazine focused on health and owned by Time Inc (, accessed May 22, 2013).

A survey in 2000 showed that there were 336 varieties of kimchi, each with varying ingredients and cooking methods. As diets change with access to a wider variety of foods, new varieties of kimchi are being formulated through the creative use of both conventional and unconventional ingredients. Kimchi is a long-savored side dish in Korean cuisine. It also continues to grow in popularity as an ingredient in modern culinary creations such as kimchi fried rice, kimchi tacos, and kimchi burger. Some common kimchi varieties include:

Baechu kimchi (cabbage kimchi)

Korean cabbage is first salted and then rinsed to remove excess salt. The cabbage is then prepared with red chili pepper powder, crushed garlic, and crushed ginger, with other flavorful ingredients added. The finished kimchi is stacked in containers and allowed to ferment.

Baek kimchi (white kimchi)

Julienned radish, water parsley, chestnuts, red-pepper threads, and pine nuts are tossed in seasonings and stuffed between leaves of mildly salted whole Korean cabbage. It is called white kimchi because red chili pepper powder is omitted, making it pale in comparison to the spicier varieties.

Kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi)

Korean radish is diced into small cubes, salted, tossed with various ingredients such as red chili pepper powder, crushed garlic, and crushed ginger, and allowed to ferment.

Oisobagi (cucumber kimchi)

Cucumbers are first cut across, and then each tube-shaped piece is deeply slit length-wise twice to make four wedges that remain joined at one end. The cucumber pieces are stuffed with the combination of chopped scallion, crushed garlic, crushed ginger, and red chili pepper powder, stacked neatly in containers, and allowed to ferment.