By Stephen Redeker
Imagine spending the entire night drinking a liquor in total excess and then waking up the next morning feeling just fine. This could be a reality, if you believe what the North Korean newspaper The Pyeongyang Times has recently reported.
Our neighbors north of the border have reported that Koryo Liquor exudes national flavor and is a suave drink highly appreciated by experts and lovers, mainly because it cannot cause a hangover. They claim that it also “won a medal for quality and has been registered as a national and technological hit.” The Taedonggang Foodstuff Factory, inventors of the drink, has been working on this formula for years. Apparently the ability of this spirit to repress the dreaded hangover can be attributed to its very healthy ingredients.
Koryo Liquor is primarily made from a native ginseng root. This special six-year-old plant is called Kaesang Koryo insam. It’s believed to have very high medicinal properties. Scorched glutinous rice is used in the blend instead of using sugar. The rice is supposed to remove the bitterness of the ginseng and thus provide the special blend with its unique flavor and anti-hangover capacity.
What exactly is a hangover and why is that important in Korea? After a large amount of alcohol is ingested (or sometimes just one drink, for some), the body and mind feel very sick and uncomfortable. The alcohol has irritated the stomach lining, dehydrated the body, expanded blood vessels and caused blood sugar to drop significantly. This is a tough way to wake up after a night of drinking, and it’s an all too common feeling for many Koreans. Drinking (often in copious amounts) is a part of the culture, especially with co-workers after a hard day’s work. Many people are faced with the effects of a hangover even on a weekday. They are inclined to come right back to work only hours after the last shot went down. That’s why you see many “hangover curing” elixirs and tonics sold at most convenience stores. Therefore, an alcoholic beverage that doesn’t cause a hangover would be very appealing to the masses.
Can it be believed? Is there truly such a revolutionary invention? Even though many other news outlets have shared this story, it is yet to be seen or tested on the public whether or not this beverage causes a hangover. Andray Abrahamian is the director of research at the Chosun Exchange and often travels to the DPRK. He says the insam based liquors are not such a “tasty treat” to him, and he claims, “in my experience, there is no such thing as hangover-free booze anywhere in the world”. However, he has not yet tried the Koryo Liquor brand in question.
Lest we forget, this is not the first major claim of a remarkable medical effect from insam ginseng. Just last year North Korean scientists created a vaccine made from the precious root. They said it can cure Ebola, MERS, SARS, and even AIDS. Based on that claim, it’s hard to believe in this so called hangover-free liquor as being the real deal. Thus, another myth that may never be truly verified.
(photo credit: www.mnn.com)