Kimchi Making Class in Seoul: All the Boys Wanna Eat My Kimchi!

Diving into a kimchi making class in Seoul is not just fun; it’s a deep dive into what makes Korea unique. After all, food is a big part of any culture, and kimchi is as Korean as it gets. But there’s more to Seoul than just great food. Imagine other things you can do in Seoul such as taking a step back in time at the majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace, strolling through the colorful and artsy streets of Insadong, or catching a breathtaking city view from Namsan Seoul Tower. These are the kind of moments that bring you closer to the heart and soul of Seoul, blending the old with the new in the most captivating way. Really, could anything be more authentically Korean?

Kimchi is perhaps the most popular Korean banchan (side dish), and it is served with almost everything. Koreans are so heavily into their kimchi that I’ve even heard of Korean friends preparing some to take with them when they travel overseas! 

A Little Kimchi History 

If you know anything about Korean food, you will probably know that kimchi (fermented, pickled vegetables) is a major part of the cuisine. There are over 180 different types of kimchi and serving a meal without it is almost sacrilege.

I know it sounds stinky; trust me, I get your apprehension. When I first came to Korea in 2015, I warily picked up a slither of it with my chopsticks, brought it up to my eye for closer inspection and twirled it around as though I had made a fascinating discovery. 

To my surprise, I enjoyed kimchi and now I get a sad twinge of excitement every time I go to a restaurant and discover a new type of kimchi.

Naturally, when my friend suggested a place where we could try taking a kimchi-making class in Seoul I was pretty excited. With that, we took off to Myeongdong to visit the Seoul Kimchi Academy.

Taking a Kimchi Making Class in Seoul
My Experience 

We made two types of kimchi: a radish kimchi, and the Chinese cabbage kimchi that you often see served at Korean restaurants.  The kimchi was surprisingly straightforward to make and I’ve replicated the recipe myself since.

I feel I’m on my way to becoming an honorary Korean now. I have bags of kimchi fermenting in my kitchen and bowls of cabbage soaking in salt ready for the next batch on the floor by my dining table…. It’s not very sexy if I start dating someone, though, is it?

“Whoops! Watch your head dear – don’t hit your head on the fermented cabbage bags”

“Ahh! Mind you don’t trip over the bowls of salty cabbage, Babe; I need those for making kimchi!”

Preparing the Kimchi

At my kimchi making class in Seoul, I quickly realized just how easy it is to make this delicacy. You only need a few ingredients, most of which you probably have somewhere in your kitchen cupboards anyway.

The only thing to keep in mind is that if you are trying to replicate the dish outside of Asia, it may be difficult to get hold of the large Chinese cabbage. 

A Brief Intro to the Kimchi-Making Process

All the cabbage!

Our cooking teacher made the class fun and interactive. She showed us, step-by-step, how to make both cabbage and radish kimchi. 

To make the cabbage kimchi, we first made a spicy, flavorful paste. This was comprised of ground garlic, ginger, chopped shallots, Korean chili flakes, and miso sauce (Korean fish sauce). 

We then prepared spring onions, mixed the paste by hand, and slathered it generously between the different layers of the cabbage. The cabbage was sealed airtight in a bag, and taken home to be stored in a cool, dark place. 

After preparing the kimchi, it takes approximately three days to ferment. On the third day, you can open the bag and enjoy the kimchi as a side dish to your favorite food, or just wolf it down by itself as a healthy snack. 

In some ways, it’s a little creepy to have an ever-expanding back of kimchi fermenting away in your cupboards, but the end result is worth it! The kimchi mixture was so flavorful and delicious that I could have just eaten it as it was, but after having time to ferment, it became even more yummy! 

Taking a Kimchi Making Class in Seoul: My Experience 

The hanbok experience - cute eh?
The hanbok experience – cute eh?

All jokes aside, the class was a really fun experience. At 35,000 won for one hour, I would say that it is a little expensive for what you are getting, but we had so much fun, met some lovely people, and the lady that runs the academy is so sweet. I’m pleased that I went along and got to have this experience.

There is also a costume staging area in the room adjacent to the cooking class kitchen. Interestingly, we were encouraged to try on different traditional hanboks (Korean noble dresses) and take some photos before starting our lesson. All part of the fun! 

Seoul Kimchi Academy Information

If you wish to take a kimchi making class in Seoul and are interested in doing so at the Seoul kimchi academy, I have provided their details below. 

Address: 47 Myeongdong 8ga-gil, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Opening Times: Hourly courses between 10:00 am and 19:00 pm. 

Admission: 35,000 KRW for the kimchi class, 45,000 KRW for the kimchi and tteokbokki class 

Contact Information: [email protected], 02-318-7051 (Seoul)

Exploring Traditional Korean Cuisine Beyond Kimchi

Venturing into the heart of Korean culinary tradition reveals a tapestry of flavors and dishes that go far beyond the well-known kimchi. Dive into the savory world of bulgogi, thinly sliced beef marinated in a blend of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and sugar, then grilled to perfection. Experience the harmony of bibimbap, a vibrant bowl of rice mixed with vegetables, meat, a fried egg, and gochujang (chili paste), symbolizing the balance of nature. Savor the spicy-sweet kick of tteokbokki, rice cakes bathed in fiery red chili sauce, a street food staple that captures the essence of Korean comfort food. Amidst this culinary exploration, don’t miss the chance to discover the best coffee shops in Seoul, where innovative baristas transform coffee into an art form, offering a tranquil retreat and a taste of Seoul’s burgeoning café culture.

These dishes not only tantalize the taste buds but also carry deep cultural significance, embodying centuries of tradition, innovation, and the Korean spirit of Jeong—a unique sense of affection and community. By exploring these culinary delights, travelers can embark on a gastronomic journey that offers insights into Korea’s rich history, its people’s way of life, and the intricate balance of flavors that define this cuisine. Engaging with traditional Korean food is not merely about eating; it’s about experiencing a culture that prides itself on its culinary heritage.

Guide to Navigating Seoul’s Culinary Scene

Exploring Seoul’s culinary landscape is an adventure in itself, offering an array of flavors that cater to every palate. For the uninitiated, the sprawling city presents myriad dining options, from bustling street food stalls in Myeongdong, known for their spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki) and savory pancakes (pajeon), to the sophisticated dining scenes in Gangnam and Itaewon, where modern Korean cuisine meets global gastronomy. Venturing into Gwangjang Market, food enthusiasts can experience traditional Korean street food, including mung bean pancakes (bindaetteok) and freshly made kimchi.

When dining in Seoul, embracing local etiquette can enrich your experience; for instance, it’s customary to wait for the eldest at the table to start eating. Additionally, learning a few basic Korean phrases can go a long way in navigating menus and expressing gratitude. To uncover hidden gems, consider joining a food tour led by locals or seeking recommendations from residents, which can lead you to lesser-known spots that offer authentic and delectable Korean dishes. This hands-on approach not only demystifies Seoul’s food scene but also connects travelers more deeply with the city’s culture and culinary traditions.

Additional Thoughts

Kimchi aside, there are several other cooking classes in Seoul that you may be interested to try. At these places, you can learn how to prepare other traditional Korean dishes such as bulgogi (the beloved marinated Korean meat), or various soups and stews. 

I haven’t visited these places personally, however, several additional Seoul cooking classes with excellent reputations are the O’ngo Food Communications class, and K Cooking Class Seoul. Each of these places are recommended and approved by the Korean Tourism Board. 

As we bring our culinary adventure in Seoul to a close, it’s clear that delving into the heart of Korean cuisine through a kimchi-making class is not just about learning a recipe; it’s a gateway to embracing the rich tapestry of Korean culture. This experience, while uniquely flavorful and occasionally humorous with its quirky challenges, offers more than just culinary skills. It’s a celebration of heritage, an exercise in cultural immersion, and a testament to the joy of sharing food traditions.

Kimchi, with its vibrant flavors and health benefits, stands as a symbol of Korean resilience and creativity. The journey of crafting this iconic dish, from sourcing fresh ingredients to witnessing the transformation during fermentation, mirrors the journey of discovery every traveler embarks upon. Whether it’s navigating the bustling markets of Myeongdong or savoring the results of your culinary endeavors, each step is a step closer to the heart of Korea.

This exploration of Seoul’s culinary scene, capped by the hands-on experience of kimchi making, serves as a reminder of the universal language of food. It bridges gaps, forges connections, and enriches our travels with unforgettable flavors and stories. So, as you plan your next journey or seek to bring a taste of the world into your kitchen, remember the lessons learned and the friendships forged over a bowl of freshly made kimchi.

Have any further questions about taking a kimchi making class in Seoul, or planning a Seoul itinerary in general? I lived here for two years and I know the city very well. I am more than happy to assist you with any concerns or queries that you may have. Feel free to drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Safe travels! Annyeong! Melissa xo 

Note: High Heels and a Backpack is in no way affiliated with the Seoul Kimchi Academy. I paid for this experience myself, and all opinions shared here are completely my own. I did not receive any discount, and the school did not realise that I was a Travel Blogger in attendance. 

This article on taking a kimchi making class in Seoul was originally written in August 2016. It was last updated on the 1st October 2019. 


highheelsandabackpack

Alice Cooper is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

12 Comments

  1. Wow! That Kimxhi looks yum and because its with cabbage, I would really want to try it. Your pictures are beautiful and you look like a Barbie doll in them. Lovely post and when I am in South Korea, I will definitely try the cabbage Kimchi. Thanks for sharing such a lovely post with a yum dish 😀

  2. I LOVE Korean food, and would have loved this experience. I’ll 100% do this when I visit soon. I’m the same as you, I don’t eat seafood (vegetarian), so it’s great that I could enjoy their national dish without any animal products, as in Asia fish sauce is like a staple for many dishes, so I’ve gotta be careful and in most cases it’s probably best for me to make my own lol! Hope you had a great time!

  3. Im glad I came across your blog. Though ill be traveling to Korea by end Q1 next year, but Im on the process of listing things I might want to try and experience while being there. Have read your article on Female solo traveler in Korea as well and it gave me the confidence I’ll be needing for my first solo trip in Korea. I really cant wait to explore what the place has to offer.

    Thank you so much and cheers 🍻to more travels and blogs for your!

    Lyra, Philippines 😊

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