By Eric Hamilton
USACE Far Each District Public Affairs
Volunteers from the Far East District joined members of the Seoul Jung-gu Saemaul Women’s Club to make kimchi for the area’s needy and elderly families Nov. 18.
Volunteers at this annual event transformed 1,800 heads of cabbage into 500 boxes of kimchi, a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. The event was held outdoors under canopies at the Jung-gu district office, just outside the Far East District compound, preparing to distribute the boxes of kimchi to needy and elderly families in the Jung-gu area.
Ms. Sin Su-yong, a contract specialist in the Far East District’s Directorate of Contracting, gave a brief overview of making kimchi. “This has been a long tradition for Korean families, preparing for the winter. Before global warming, we had four or five months of long winter. Normally, the second or third week of November is a perfect time for kimchi making because of the weather,” Sin said. “It's cool enough to prevent the kimchi from fermenting too soon. We buy red paper, ginger, chili, onions and different kinds of vegetables and fermented fish juice to make the kimchi taste better.”
From there, Sin described her memories of making the kimchi itself. “I used to buy the cabbage ... spray it with salt, and let it set overnight. It takes a long time. We put all the ingredients in one large container, and invite the neighbors to help. We also help when others invite us, and enjoy the spirit of helping and cooperation.”
Sin said she volunteered to feel this spirit at the event. “Raising the awareness of helping people, with kimchi. It is time-consuming, and can be expensive, depending on the ingredients used. It takes effort, and it takes time. I felt it was a good time for me to take leave, to volunteer to make kimchi for helping others in need,” she said.
Eight other volunteers, including Lt. Col. Timika M. Wilson, deputy district commander and Ms. Hope Bales, wife of the district commander, joined Jung-gu District Mayor Choi Chang-sik and his wife, Song Won-Mi, during the event. Choi expressed his gratitude to members of the district for their help in providing valued sustenance for so many in need this winter.
District volunteers have come out to support the kimchi making every year since 2008.