North Korean kimchi put forward for Unesco award

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Media captionThe BBC's Stephen Evans taste tests North and South Korean kimchi

The United Nations is poised to grant Intangible Cultural Heritage status to the making of North Korean kimchi.

Unesco, the UN's cultural agency, has already bestowed the honour on the manufacture of the South Korean version of the pickled cabbage dish.

Given that it has described kimchi from both Koreas as "delicious", it is expected North Korean kimchi will also receive the title.

Sour and often spicy, kimchi is a daily staple in both Koreas.

It is often homemade and comes in many varieties. There are intense rivalries between regions and families over who has the best version.

In general, North Korean kimchi is less red and less spicy than its southern cousin - the result of fewer, or no, chillies, which are more commonly grown in the South.

The dish is also increasingly popular abroad, and in 2008 even went into space, with South Korean astronaut Ko San.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many Koreans regard kimchi as a "superfood" with extraordinary health-protecting properties
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption With life without kimchi a terrible thought for many Koreans - lots of whom eat it with every meal - thousands came together in Seoul in 2014 to make it for the homeless

Intangible Cultural Heritage status is awarded to practices and arts that Unesco feels are both especially important to world heritage and cultural diversity, and deserving of lasting protection.

As well as its unique taste, kimchi's production and consumption - which is what is being awarded, not the food itself - are also distinctively social experiences.

"Koreans share experience among themselves to make delicious kimchi according to season, while helping each other with raw materials and in preparation," Unesco said in the nomination documents released earlier this month.

"Koreans traditionally get together in late November and early December to make enough kimchi to last through the peninsula's long hard winter. The tradition contributes to social unity since it is practised in the whole society involving neighbourhoods, relatives, villages and organisations," it added.

Joining the Democratic Republic of Korea's (DPRK) kimchi-making techniques on a list of nominations expected to be approved next week, is the preparation of Arabic coffee, following successful lobbying by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

Several other cultural traditions are also set to be approved, including the crafting of Portuguese cow bells, and bagpipe-playing in Slovakia.

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