South Korea Wednesday opened a kimchi research centre to raise global demand for its famous dish and for the country's cuisine in general.
The agriculture ministry said the world kimchi laboratory, sited at the Korea Food Research Institute in Bundang south of Seoul, would undertake detailed research into lactic acids created by fermentation and operate a pilot plant to make prototype foods.
Kimchi is a fermented dish made by mixing pickled cabbage, radish and cucumbers with various spices and condiments.
The spicy side dish has inspired its own museum in Seoul and an annual festival and was even blasted into space with the country's first astronaut in 2008.
"The laboratory can provide scientific studies and create data needed to transform kimchi into a more global dish, as well as promote overseas demand for Korean food in general," a ministry official told Yonhap news agency.
The government is trying to promote Korean food overseas. It aims to increase agriculture and fisheries exports to 10 billion dollars by 2012 from 4.8 billion last year.