Cheojiin's typical table

Watching Fermentation Family (or Kimchi Family) on jTBC in the middle of night can be as tormenting as Google image searching foods when you should be studying for your final exam. This drama loaded with stories of good deeds has mysteries and conflicts that keep the viewer intrigued. However, it would not be complete without the invigorating colors of the kimchi that Cheonjiin puts out for everyone to eat and be deeply satisfied.

Steaming rice, creamy Makgolli, wholesome bean-paste stew and a few savory side dishes humbly set on a table are some of the images that come to mind when I think of the show. 

Paprika kimchi Apricot flower kimchi

Cockscomb water kimchi Persimmon kimchi

Music has been another integral ingredient that has made the table more merry. One is the drink offering song that Gangsan and Woojoo sing in the second episode. It begins “Drink drink, this not a drink, but my mother’s tear, my father’s perspiration.” The song moves even the quiet uncle to tap his finger to its rhythm but does not  forget to express the deep longing for parents and ancestors who labored through sweats and tears so that their children could have something to eat. The other song is used as more of background to scenes on cooking. Its melody is based on “Arirang” but has been spiced up with other genres of music. The song plays delicious sounds from the kitchen: chopping on the cutting board, lid being lifted off the heavy stone pot full of rice, seafood pancakes sizzling in an well-oiled pan, bean-paste stew boiling…

According to Park Seon-joo, musical director for the show, the theme of family has been central in music. She attempted to mix and match different genres of music to echo the narrative in which biologically unrelated and distinctive personalities come together as a family, just as different ingredients blend themselves to become kimchi.

Making seaweed kimchi Family eating together

For those of you who may not be familiar with Park, she is an veteran musician in Korea. More recently, she has been on Superstar K2 as a vocal trainer. You might have seen a picture of her with John Park. Although she has produced many records with great songs and has provided assistance to various musicians, my very first encounter with Park was through this sung with another great musician Cho Kyu-chan.

I end the post with an image of the father, the wise Kimchi master who likes to go around and make kimchi for others. He would make a great Santa Claus.

Father the kimchi master

Unionpress Article about music on Fermentation Family was used as a resource.

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