So I just caught wind, through Mike, from TBS radio's twitter account @mikeontbs, of an article in the Guardian by a lady named Rachel Cooke, titled "What's the point of Kimchi"
Go read it.
Now, I'm not a huge fan of the boosterism thing, and I don't necessarily think that kimchi should be the main focus of attempts to promote Korean food abroad, because it isn't the most accessible of Korean foods (bulgogi is, and bibimbap's up there, as is chapchae, and those awesome fish-bread things you can buy on the street in the winter). I don't believe Kimchi cures cancer, H1N1, bird flu, prolongs erections, makes children learn to read faster, heightens spatial reasoning, improves TOEIC scores, increases resistance to the HIV virus, or does any of the other things Tom Waits claims it does in Step Right Up.
On the other hand, I'd also prefer if people writing about Kimchi around the world at least knew a damn thing about it. Rachel Cooke tried Korean food a few times, didn't like kimchi the first time she tried it, because it reminded her of foul sauerkraut she once had, visited the Kimchi Field Museum in COEX's website, and wrote her article. (I've been to the museum itself: it's no great shakes, frankly, but at least I've actually been there, eaten a whack of varieties of kimchi, and know enough about Kimchi to know a good kimchi from a bad one, and I didn't just find the Kimchi Museum's website through its wikipedia page after googling "Kimchi Information" and looking all the way to the second result.)
Now, if somebody walked into a newsroom, and said "Hey! We need an article on Italian food!" and I was a member of that newsroom, I'd say "Gee. I have allergies to cheese and cream, and the strongest memory I have of Italian food is the smell of the burnt spaghetti sauce that got left on the stove while we were calling the ambulance after my father had that heart attack. Since then I've avoided Italian food, so I'm not the best guy to write about it. Find someone who actually knows about Italian."
I wouldn't have said "Hey! I'll use those six hundred words to shit on Italian food without really knowing anything about it, and make my ignorance and avoidance of it a point of pride!"
Which is pretty much what Ms. Cooke did here.
I don't think netizens should publish her address on the internet and encourage Korean-English citizens who live near her to leave flaming bags of poop on her doorstep, I don't think VANK should engineer a DDOS attack on The Guardian's website, and I have no idea if Ms. Cooke is normally a very fair, well-informed and even-handed writer in the rest of her articles... but she sure ain't in this one. And if she can dismiss the entirety of kimchi because of her few experiences with it, maybe I'll turn that same ignorance on her, and dismiss her entirety upon a tiny, ill-informed slice of information, and encourage her to piss up a rope.
Ms. Cooke: if you don't know anything about something, rather than flaunting your ignorance of it, next time I recommend you pass on the opportunity to make yourself look like an ignoramus, and let somebody else do the piece on Kimchi.
If the article is a troll to prompt "outrage hits" for The Guardian's website, shame on you and your editor for being so trashy. If it isn't, shame on you and your editor for not seeing a problem with being so willfully ignorant of a national cuisine's signature dish.
And to The Guardian: if you want an article about Kimchi, I'll write one for you, or I'll recommend some people to you who actually know about Kimchi, and have strong opinions on it that are born of knowledge and fondness for Korean cuisine, instead of ignorance.
(by the way: the Urban Dictionary page for Kimchi is pretty funny, just because it's so easy to pick out which definitions were submitted by expats, and which were submitted by Koreans.)