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S. Korea's trade deficit in kimchi widens in 2013

South Korea's exports of kimchi decreased in 2013 from a year earlier due to the falling demand from Japan amid the weak yen, data showed Sunday, enlarging the trade deficit of the country's staple side dish.

According to the data by the World Institute of Kimchi, the country's exports of kimchi decreased 16.3 percent to $89.2 million won on-year in 2013, while its imports climbed 5.9 percent to $117.4 million won.

The gap has left South Korea with a trading deficit of $28.1 million in 2013, soaring from the loss of $4.23 million posted a year earlier, the data showed.

Market watchers cited the falling shipments to Japan, due mainly to local exporters losing their price competitiveness amid the rising Korean won against the Japanese yen.

The prolonged political tension between Seoul and Tokyo over historical issues also weighed down on demand for kimchi in Japan, they added.

South Korea shipped kimchi to 60 countries as of end-2013. It depended on Japan for 73.8 percent of its kimchi exports last year, down from 84.2 percent tallied in 2010.

Shipments of kimchi to the Netherlands and the United States increased 37.1 percent and 27.7 percent, respectively, over the cited period.

South Korea, however, has been expanding imports of kimchi from facilities in China, as fewer households preferred to make their own in the traditional way. Kimchi, the country's iconic dish made with cabbage, radishes and cucumber, is eaten with almost all Korean meals. (Yonhap News)