Heangjin Park

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9353

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Park, Heangjin, U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Brokerage and Translation in Made-in-China Kimchi Trade,' supervised by Dr. Julie Chu

Preliminary abstract: How could sales of Made-in-China kimchi in South Korea increase even though most Korean consumers supposedly fear and reject the product? Moreover, how have Chinese producers of kimchi and their Korean trading partners managed the stigma of ‘Made in China’ while protecting and growing their businesses? Stimulated by the puzzling growth of Made-in-China kimchi despite widespread consumer suspicions and disavowal of Chinese food imports, this ethnographic research will examine the transnational network of brokers–spanning China and South Korea–that manufactures, imports, and sells Made-in-China kimchi. Through 17 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Qingdao, China with follow-up work in South Korea, this project will focus on how traders and manufacturers interact and communicate with each other to translate Korean kimchi’s (ideal) qualities into the material form of Made-in-China kimchi, and to broker connections with various people along the supply chain. By analyzing the processes in which sociocultural differences, transnational commodity chains, and kimchi itself are co-constituted in and between China and South Korea, this research will contribute to understanding how a mundane and mass-produced food like kimchi connects as well as creates distinctions between production and consumption, and between nation-states; and how transnational commodity chains unfold as they reflect and reinforce social hierarchies, economic inequalities, and discrimination.