Kimchi is a well-known Korean dish made from fermented cabbage and Gochugaru red paste, although many other variations exist, including the use of vegetables like cucumbers and radishes.
Earlier this year on February 10, 2022, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution No. 147, designating November 22 as Kimchi Day in Virginia. The successful passage of the Resolution was led by Representative Irene Shin of Virginia's 86th District. Representative Shin was the first Korean American to occupy a seat in the Virginia House of Representatives.
November 22 is in many ways a significant date for this special recognition. In 2019, South Korea declared the date as “Kimchi Day,” since late November/early December marks the typical time for Gimjang (also spelt Kimjang), the process of families setting aside time to make kimchi together before winter sets in. Gimjang was declared intangible cultural heritage of Korea by UNESCO in 2013.
"Proclaiming the first Kimchi Day in state history is another way to celebrate our incredible Korean-American community and its many contributions," Governor Hogan said in a statement. "Our administration is proud of the special bond we have with Korea, and all we have been able to do to make those cultural and economic ties even stronger."
Yumi Hogan, the first lady of Maryland, is the first Korean American First Lady in the United States, and hosts her own cooking series called “Yumi Cooks,” which has featured Kimchi in the past. The First Lady also led the effort to open Maryland’s Koreatown last year in Ellicott City.
According to the Maryland governor’s office, the governor’s mansion is also the first in the nation to have a kimchi fridge, which preserves the dish at optimal temperatures for the best taste and texture.
Maryland is home to around 57,400 people of Korean descent, and home to numerous Korean restaurants, supermarkets, and many Korean churches and other places of worship. Links between Maryland and South Korea are also prominent. Baltimore has a sister city relationship with the South Korean city of Changwon while the State of Maryland maintains a “sister state” relationship with South Gyeongsang Province.
These various relationships help foster cooperation in education, business, and trade. For example, in 2018, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Pusan National University Yangsan Hospital signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Baltimore regarding cooperation in the shared interests of life sciences and biotechnology.
The designation of Kimchi Day is a symbolic recognition for the contributions of Korean Americans and to the strong relationship between the United States and South Korea. Following other states in recognizing Kimchi Day, Maryland has demonstrated the importance of Korea to the United States!
Aryan D’Rozario is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Aryan received his master’s degree from the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, studying Modern South Asia.