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Petition in South Korea opposes renaming of national dish kimchi

A South Korean government decision to refer to the national dish kimchi as “shinchi” or “xinqi” is coming under criticism in the country. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE
A South Korean government decision to refer to the national dish kimchi as “shinchi” or “xinqi” is coming under criticism in the country. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A petition in South Korea is drawing attention to a government decision to modify the Chinese term for kimchi, the spicy cabbage dish of Korean origin that has stoked a bitter feud between the two countries.

Kim Byung-ki, professor emeritus of Chinese language and literature at Jeonbuk National University, said in the petition uploaded to the presidential Blue House website Monday that he is opposed to a decision to change the Chinese term for kimchi to "shinchi" or "xinqi," Dong-A Ilbo and Korea Economic Daily TV reported Thursday.

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Kim said the change proposed by Seoul's Ministry of Culture should be retracted, the reports said.

The petition had gathered more than 8,800 signatures by late Thursday, local time.

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According to the petition, changing the name of Korea's national dish "can lead to misunderstandings," especially among Chinese nationals who already refer to the dish by its original Korean name.

Controversy over kimchi between the two countries began last year, when Chinese state tabloid Global Times claimed China had been conferred recognition by the International Organization for Standardization, with a global certification for kimchi as Chinese.

The organization said the Chinese claims are incorrect.

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Kim also said that in China that Korean kimchi is referred to as "paocai," or Korean paocai. Paocai is a Chinese cabbage dish that is prepared differently.

There is therefore "no reason to use the word 'shinchi' out of the blue," the South Korean academic said in his petition.

Kim also said the South Korean government should not be instructing Chinese nationals how to write traditional Korean words.

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"That is for them to figure out," he said.

South Korean activists have taken issue previously with Chinese claims about kimchi and other cultural artifacts.

Voluntary Agency Network of Korea said in February that China's largest portal, Baidu, had an encyclopedia entry stating that kimchi is a longtime cultural heritage of China.

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