I love interesting museums. If they’re food-related, that is a definite plus. While the Tteok (Rice Cake) Museum was pretty lame (and, on top of that, didn’t allow pictures!), the Kimchi Field Museum in COEX Mall was actually really awesome.
The first section showed some kimchi making implements and the history of kimchi.
We found it really interesting that the ubiquitous cabbage kimchi with red pepper paste didn’t begin to appear until the 1800s. Kimchi itself, however, goes back further into Korean history. Red pepper wasn’t available in the country until 1700 – in fact, it came from Mexico by way of Japan. Even then, it was only used medicinally for about 100 years, after which it showed up as an ingredient in kimchi (and is now everywhere in Korean cuisine).
The next section had a bunch of food models of seasonal and regional kimchis. Despite having eaten plenty of kimchi, I had not heard of most of these kinds. There are hundreds of kinds of kimchi. Basically any salted, pickled, or fermented vegetable counts. There were even some seafood kimchis.
Next up was a section about what’s in kimchi, that encouraged you to smell each ingredient.
Then there was a series of dioramas showing the kimchi making process, as well as some different kinds of kimchi storage jars. After that there was a room detailing the health benefits of kimchi with little cartoons to illustrate them.
Finally, there was a kimchi tasting room. The kimchi here was prime quality. There were many varieties – all delicious! I learned a lot at the kimchi museum and really recommend a visit when you’re in Seoul.
- Location: It’s in the second basement level of COEX mall, in the part close to the aquarium.
- Admission: 3,000 Won. The tasting alone is worth that!
- Hours: Open 10-6. Closed Mondays.
- Other Info: You can enjoy all the museum has to offer in about an hour.