Tomato Festival in South Korea Sparks Interest With 'Tomato Kimchi' Contest and Street Vendor Ban | Be Korea-savvy

Tomato Festival in South Korea Sparks Interest With ‘Tomato Kimchi’ Contest and Street Vendor Ban


GWANGJU, Jun. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – A three-day tomato festival kicked off last Friday in Toechon, a tomato-producing area in the city of Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province.

This year’s event drew attention for two reasons: the decision to ban street vendors to prevent price gouging controversies, and the introduction of a new “tomato kimchi” cooking contest. 

Toechon tomatoes are renowned for their high sugar content, thanks to an eco-friendly farming method that relies on bee pollination.

Grown in the pristine Paldang Lake area, these tomatoes have a firm texture and superior quality due to the region’s prohibition on chemical pesticides and the use of natural pest control methods and bee pollination. 


The area’s focus on environmentally friendly agriculture, including soil improvement with microorganisms and the concentrated greenhouse farming district that facilitates the adoption of new cultivation technologies, contributes to the high quality of the tomatoes. 

At the 22nd Toechon Tomato Festival, a variety of “fusion kimchi” dishes made their debut in the tomato kimchi cooking contest.

Highlights included a “tomato geotjeori” (fresh kimchi) developed by a kimchi master and a refreshing “tomato mul-kimchi” that combines tomatoes with a water-based kimchi. 

However, the most notable aspect of this year’s festival was the decision to ban street vendors. Street food stalls have long been an integral part of local festivals, offering diverse cuisine and entertainment that liven up the events.

Yet, exorbitant food prices amid inflation have consistently sparked public outrage over price gouging, compounded by concerns over the quality and quantity of the offerings.


Ultimately, the city of Gwangju decided to exclude street vendors from the Toechon Tomato Festival after unsuccessful negotiations.

Despite repeated attempts to encourage price reductions through pre-event education, vendors cited high inflation rates and refused to lower their prices, leading to a breakdown in talks.

Alongside the tomato kimchi contest, the festival featured various experiences, such as a “tomato pool” where visitors could stomp on tomatoes to find hidden prize tickets. Organizers also planned live performances and a direct-sale marketplace, anticipating higher attendance than last year.

Image credit: Yonhap /

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