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S. Korea's kimchi imports hit new high in Oct.

Packaged kimchi is displayed on the shelves of a discount store in Seoul, Oct. 12, 2021. (Yonhap)
Packaged kimchi is displayed on the shelves of a discount store in Seoul, Oct. 12, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea's imports of kimchi touched an all-time monthly high in October amid runaway inflation in the country, government data showed Wednesday.

Inbound shipments of the spicy Korean traditional side dish stood at a record $17.02 million last month, up 50.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

It was also up 16.2 percent from the previous month and marked the first time for South Korea's monthly kimchi imports to surpass the $17 million mark.

The country's kimchi exports came to $11.13 million in October, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.89 million in the sector.

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish normally made of fermented cabbage, salt and hot peppers, and is eaten with almost all meals.

The surge in October kimchi imports was attributed to rising prices of cabbage, other ingredients and locally made kimchi products, which prompted restaurants and other users to resort to cheaper imports from China.

South Korea's leading kimchi maker Daesang FNF and other firms jacked up product prices by nearly 10 percent in October and September, their second price hikes this year.

The data also showed South Korea's kimchi imports soaring 30 percent on-year to $142 million in the first 10 months of this year. In contrast, kimchi exports shrank 12.8 percent to $119 million, leading to a trade deficit of $23 million in the sector.

Given that, South Korea's kimchi trade balance is widely expected to swing to a deficit for all of 2022 from last year's $19.2 million surplus, the first black ink in 12 years. (Yonhap)

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