Nongshim removes Chinese term for kimchi from noodle packaging

Bomi Yoon

By Ko Dong-hwan

Nongshim's kimchi-flavored bowl noodle available in the United States shows Chinese characters for kimchi on the bottom-left. Screen capture from Nongshim USA

Nongshim’s kimchi-flavored bowl noodle available in the United States shows Chinese characters for kimchi on the bottom-left. Screen capture from Nongshim USA

Nongshim decided to delete a Chinese term for kimchi from its noodle product packaging to avoid hinting at any connection between the fermented Korean side dish and China, and dismissing the Asian neighbor’s controversial claim to the cabbage product’s origin, the company said Friday.

Korea’s largest instant noodle maker said it will remove the Chinese character shown on its two “spicy kimchi-flavored” noodle products, including a bowl noodle, that were selling in the United States so the products will only show the food’s English name pronunciation.

A company official said that although showing the Chinese letter on the products didn’t violate any law or company regulation, it carried out the measure to get rid of any possibility of further stoking the Chinese claim that has been rebuffed by the Korean government and experts.

Last Thursday, Seo Kyoung-duk, a professor from Sungshin Women’s University in Korea, raised a question regarding the products’ indication of the Chinese word and proposed its removal from the products. Seo, who has been actively promoting a veracity of the history of Korea that was abused or misused by other countries, said that some of his Instagram followers in the United States informed him about the products.

“The Chinese word from the Nongshim products indicates a certain pickled cabbage that originates from the northeastern Chinese region. It is totally different from our kimchi,” Seo said on social media.

“As you well know, China for the past few years has been campaigning using newspaper articles and an encyclopedia to claim itself as kimchi’s origin. Amid such contentious atmosphere, we must keep our basics right by using right words. Wrong use of word will only provide China with another excuse to keep up its kimchi propaganda.”

China first raised the propaganda by claiming that kimchi derived from pao cai, brine-pickled vegetables that originate from China. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, responding to the claim, in 2021 revised the country’s official guideline on indicating Korean words in foreign languages to officially state kimchi as “xinqi” in Chinese.

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