Normally fall is the time when families in Korea make kimchi, packing cabbage, ground chilies and garlic into enough jars to see them through winter. But this year a bout of bad weather in South Korea ruined the napa cabbage harvest and the country is reeling.
Political scandals, black-market cabbage and kimchi bailouts — who knew a pickle could be so powerful?
September rains ruined much of this year's napa cabbage crop, leaving most stores out of stock and driving up the price of what's left to $10 a head, four times the usual. The Seoul city government has implemented a kimchi bailout program, subsidizing the 300,000 heads of cabbage it is bringing in from rural farms, and the federal government has reduced tariffs on Chinese-grown cabbage.
Black markets have also sprung up, fueling what may be history's most ambitious cabbage-related heist: four men were recently caught trying to make off with over 400 heads of napa cabbage.
The president of South Korea hasn't helped matters with his recent announcement that he would only eat kimchi made with the round cabbage from Europe and North America, which he claimed was cheaper. Critics pointed out that the round cabbage is only slightly cheaper, so his statement is akin to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake."
"Let them eat round cabbage kimchi" doesn't quite have the same ring, does it?
• Read more: Kimchi Crisis Leaves South Koreans Hot Under Collar - Los Angeles Times
Related: My First Kimchi-Making Experience
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)