By applying the critical discourse analysis (CDA) method, this paper examines selected media texts that are relevant to the currently ongoing kimchi dispute between Korea and China, which was first triggered by China’s recent acquisition of kimchi ISO certification. The research questions are as follows : 1) A description of the textual practice of the two main Global Times articles (Nov. 28 and Dec. 9, 2020), 2) an interpretation of the discourse practice of the intertextuality of kimchi- related tweets by the US Ambassador to Korea and the Chinese Ambassador to UN, as well as an English article from the Global Times, comments that the Central Law Commission of China published on the same day, Jan. 13, 2021, and 3) an explanation of the social practices and conditions which China used to ignite the Kimchi dispute.
The research findings indicate that China actively created the Korea- China cultural war frame. This cultural war frame makes use of various players through citations within texts, which employ psychological warfare by declaring that kimchi is a Chinese food, thereby using distortion and fabrication in order to deprive Korea of its status as the home country of kimchi. The key point of the psychological warfare, which insults and taunts Korea, is to spread the belief that, ‘Kimchi is a Chinese food,’ and when Korean people openly oppose this, China makes the accusation that, ‘Korean people have become paranoid.’ These attacks are an attempt to prove that China is culturally and mentally superior and aims to increase China's ‘cultural confidence,’ which is constructed and presented by President Xi Jinping. Therefore, Koreans are framed as, ‘people with a lack of cultural confidence.’ The kimchi cultural war sparked by the articles of The Global Times expanded into a diplomatic war, including the participation of U.S. and Chinese ambassadors. As the U.S. ambassador to Korea encouraged Korea with tweets that promoted Korea's authentic, traditional culture of kimchi-making on a global platform, the U.N. ambassador to China implicitly cut down the status of Korea as the original country of kimchi, through tweets which stated that it is not too difficult for individuals to make kimchi themselves. The Chinese version of the Global Times encouraged Chinese people to feel anti-Korean sentiment, emphasized China's excellence, and pointed out the problematic issue of purchasing Korean Wave products, all for the purpose of uniting Chinese people. On the other hand, the English version emphasized that the kimchi dispute continues to remain unnecessary, and that individuals need to be open-minded by covertly citing the origin of Chinese civilization through different ambiguous expressions. The English version of the article finds an exit strategy for the kimchi war by reframing the ‘cultural conflict’ frame into a ‘cultural exchange,’ in line with the recent direction of cultural exchange between S. Korea and China which was suggested by President Xi Jinping.
Through the spread of the ideology which considers kimchi a Chinese food, China attempts to climb onto the shoulders of Korea’s identity as a worldwide cultural powerhouse, crack Korea's unique cultural identity, and appropriate excellent Korean culture as its own. It is part of a national cultural strategy project which promotes and propagates China's long-standing cultural identity around the world. Economically, it aims to strengthen China's position as a cultural power by increasing kimchi exports to countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China's hidden intentions revealed in the recent kimchi dispute point towards its desire to expand its cultural power around the world, and an opportunity for China to become a powerful country.