Krystal asked me about kimchee and I decided it made more sense to answer publicly than in a private message.
It's the product of fermentation via lactic acid producing bacteria, like sauerkraut or yogurt. In the case of sauerkraut, kimchee and similar vegetable ferments, the process of pickling is used.
Pickling just means low acidity. Modern industrial pickling (and home canning) is not a fermentation process involving living food. It simply packs stuff in enough vinegar to make them acidic, then sterilizes the whole thing, killing any and all bacteria, mold, yeast.
Traditional pickling is based on salt, either dry salting or the use of brine (salt water solution). The salt creates an environment that fosters specific lactic acid bacteria, whose action on the vegetables creates acid. As the process proceeds, and the environment becomes more sour, different lactic acid bacterias become favored.
The very cool thing is that this process does not allow the growth of other, harmful bacteria.
The other very cool thing is that it preserves the vitamin C in cabbage and actually increases the B vitamins.
Best reference is Sandor Katz's The Art of Fermentation. A somewhat more westernized version in terms of persnickitiness about food safety and overuse of wet brine during the fermentation process itself but a good recipe source is The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich.