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U.S. ambassador makes Korean kimchi amid culinary dispute

U.S. ambassador makes Korean kimchi amid culinary dispute
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris joined local celebrity chef Lee Hye-jung for a live-streamed cooking show Tuesday. File Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The top U.S. diplomat to South Korea displayed his kimchi-making skills on a live-streamed cooking show in Seoul, amid a dispute between China and South Korea over the origins of the spicy cabbage dish.

U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris said Tuesday he had "learned so much" about the kimchi-making process from South Korean celebrity chef "Big Mama" Lee Hye-jung, and used the hashtag #originalKimchifromKorea on Twitter to promote the dish.

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"Looking forward to tasting it in 3 days!" Harris tweeted, referring to the fermentation process. Kimchi is made in large volumes during winter in Korea.

Harris, who has often posted videos of himself cooking or enjoying Korean food, said during the show filmed at the ambassador's residence that there is "nothing more Korean than kimchi."

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"It's great to have Chef Big Mama Lee here at the Habib House to teach me how to make uniquely Korean, world-renowned food, kimchi," Harris said, according to Yonhap. "I had no idea that all this went into making kimchi, which I eat not every day but almost every day."

Chinese media previously claimed the Chinese government deserved credit for developing standards for a dish eaten by Koreans.

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In November, Chinese state tabloid Global Times claimed China had been conferred recognition by the International Organization for Standardization, with a global certification for the Chinese dish pao cai. The certification also is recognition for kimchi as Chinese, Chinese media had said.

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The claims drew an angry response from South Koreans, and Seoul's agriculture ministry issued a statement refuting Chinese media claims.

"It is inappropriate to report [the pao cai certification] without differentiating kimchi from pao cai of China's Sichuan [province]," Seoul said, according to the BBC.

Sandrin Tranchard, the ISO's communications officer, also corrected any claims that equated kimchi to pao cai.

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"ISO24220 is about pao cai, and the document clearly says that it does not apply to kimchi," Tranchard said, according to Business Korea in early December.

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