The history of Arirang Kimchi plays out like a classic welcome-to-America success story. The company began 30 years ago when a young, newlywed couple immigrated to the United States from Korea in search of a better life. The bittersweet experience of newly arrived immigrants was tied to the joy of discovering a new land, while missing the life they left behind.
One of the ways the young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Oh, stayed connected to their homeland was through cooking the foods they knew and loved. As Koreans, naturally one of those foods was kimchi.
Mrs. Oh experimented with various recipes, and perfected what she felt was a classic, delectable kimchi. After receiving countless words of praise from friends, the couple decided that their product was good enough to take to market. Arirang Kimchi was born.
“Arirang” refers to the title of the ubiquitous folk song of Korea, often the very first piece of music to which a child is introduced. The word doesn’t have a specific meaning, but is synonymous with Korea itself. For the native Korean, just the first few notes of the song can bring forth a flood of memories of the motherland. You can’t help but apply this connection to kimchi as well. There is perhaps no other food among international cuisine that is so closely tied to its country of origin.
To this day, Mrs. Oh insists on using only her favorite imported chili pepper flakes and other key ingredients from Korea. The company has also formed partnerships with farmers in Canada, Maryland, Georgia and Florida, so they can still receive fresh produce from each area, depending on the season.
In the past 30 years, the company has grown from serving a relatively small community in northern New Jersey and New York City, to offering their kimchi in retail outlets up and down the eastern seaboard. There is now a whole generation on the east coast that has been raised on Arirang Kimchi. And, there is good news for them and anyone looking for true, authentic kimchi: Arirang Kimchi is now available nationwide through The Food Channel World Market.
Arirang Kimchi is the Oh family’s testament to the culinary heritage of one country and the wealth of opportunity of another.