Korean Red Cross makes goodwill visit to Kuching
By Jude Toyat
Traditional food has always been a major attraction for many countries, including Korea.
While Malaysia is famous for a Malaccan food made of fermented shrimp known as the ‘cencaluk’, Korea is similarly known for a similar side dish – kimchi.
Kimchi has undergone several transformations since it was first used as a way to preserve food to survive through the winter season. Now it has become recognised as Korea’s national dish, with over 200 varieties of this popular pickled dish.
“Kimchi is one of the most popular foods in Korea. Apart from being a delicious side dish, it also contains many health benefits,” said Korean Red Cross Gyeonggi Chapter of Anyang City chairman Im Young-Bach.
“It is proven by scientists that eating kimchi helped prevent Koreans from being infected by the severe acute respiratory system (better known as SARS) in 2003.”
Im, together with 18 volunteers, was here on a goodwill visit recently and were holding a kimchi-making demonstration at Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Kuching Branch headquarters here.
Im said being their first trip overseas, the volunteers had carried out many activities back home to raise enough funds to enable them to visit this city.
“I hope this event will be a success and become a stepping stone for more overseas trips in the future. We also hope to have the opportunity to visit Kuching on a yearly basis,” he said.
“Initially, we were planning to visit Cambodia, but eventually we changed our plan after a meeting with delegates from the Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) to Korea last February,” he said.
Among the countries that were included in their initial plan were Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines but after they learnt that Kuching had been heavily flooded at the time, they were keen to lend a hand to help the flood victims.
“Here, we visited the DBKU office and handed over donations for the underprivileged families. The items included 100 trousers, special clothes for newborns, some Korean instant noodles, storybooks in the Korean language, stationeries and T-shirts.
“DBKU will then help us to distribute these items to the families in need,” he added.
In Korea, there are nine provinces including Seoul and every province has its own chapter for the Korean Red Cross. Under Gyeonggi city, there are 31 sub-branches and Anyang is one of them.
The Anyang volunteers group has been helping the underprivileged in Korea for 40 years now.
“Normally on Tuesdays, we will prepare Korean food to be provided to the needy in Korea.
“We also conduct singing classes to earn some profit to help the underprivileged people there, and we also handed some of the profits to poor students to be used as scholarships for them to further their studies,” he added.
When asked about the art of making Kimchi in Korea, Im said that it is going strong.
“Kimchi-making is part of our tradition in Korea. Thanks to our younger generation, the tradition is still alive until today and almost everyday people in Korea eat Kimchi as they are proud of it,” Im added.
The delegates were accompanied by tour coordinator John Kim and the Kimchi making demonstration session were attended by members of the public including officers from Malaysian Red Crescent Stampin Chapter led by its chairman Chong Choon Chiang, SUPP Women chief Datin Jennifer Chee Moinie and advisor Amy Tnay.