Talk about being caught in a pickle over a pickled dish.
In the latest episode of a long-running cultural flashpoint, South Koreans have been piling on a Chinese food vlogger for presenting what looks like a kimchi dish as Chinese.
The recent row was triggered by the last video of Li Ziqi, a popular Chinese social media personality with 14 million YouTube subscribers to date.
In her latest video upload titled “The life of white radish,” she could be seen harvesting cabbage and making pickled cabbage with chilies, or kimchi in short. She then uses her kimchi for her soup dish.
Though there was no overt claim in the video that the dish was the Korean kimchi and that it is of Chinese heritage, Koreans swarmed soon after on her social media page to take issue over the portrayal of their national dish. Koreans were also miffed that the video, where kimchi was featured, had the tags “chinese cuisine,” and “chinese food.”
“Thanks for showing how to make Kimchi, one of the most popular Korean foods. By the way, could you please change the hashtag #Chinesefood to #Koreanfood?,” read one comment on YouTube.
“It seems like Chinese people love laying claims to everything except COVID-19. Thank you for introducing Korean food, though,” read another comment.
Some also brought up a 2017 video of Li Ziqi specifically about kimchi, which she referred to the dish as Kimchi “the traditional food from Yanbian,” an autonomous Korean area in Northeast China.
Though YouTube is blocked in China, the issue was quickly picked up by Chinese social media such as Weibo where the topic “Li Ziqi besieged by Korean netizens” have been trending with 880 million views and 61,000 posts. Many Chinese defended Li Ziqi, saying that kimchi has been part of their heritage as well.
The controversy is just the recent installment in a running dispute between Koreans and Chinese. Just last December, Koreans expressed anger online after reports came out that China received certification from the International Organization for Standardisation for one of its fermented dishes called pao cai, which was misconstrued by a tabloid as kimchi.
The testy relationship between the two countries is partly fueled by a deep-seated historical animosity tracing its roots to the Korean War in 1950. With cultural overlaps and similarities between the two cultures, both sides have cultural artifacts and pieces of heritage that they claim is being stolen by the other country.