Ginseng deal first of its kind for 2 Koreas

Joong Ang Daily
12/14/2006

A group of South Korean ginseng farmers will plant and process the medicinal herb in North Korea in the first inter-Korean ginseng venture.

Representatives of the United Korea Ginseng Farming Association Corp., based in South Chungcheong province in South Korea, will visit Pyongyang-based Kwangmyongsong General Corp. to discuss setting up a plant in the North Korean capital, said Lee Kyeong-hoon, president of the ginseng farmers’ association.

“North Korean ginseng is the most expensive in overseas markets,” Mr. Lee said. “We expect higher profits in Hong Kong and China selling products grown in healthier soil and with traditional cultivation methods only available in North Korea.”

South Korea’s government received criticism from the opposition Grand National Party because of its support for North Korean projects like the Kaesong industrial complex after North Korea tested its first nuclear bomb on Oct. 9 and launched missiles in July.

The government rebuffed the criticism, saying the projects don’t support the North Korean weapons program.

Ginseng, a root herb mostly found in Korea, northern China and eastern Siberia, may help improve the survival of cancer patients, according to a March study by the Nashville, Tennessee-based Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

North Korea is providing the buildings, water and electricity while the South Korean association is supplying ginseng seeds and processing facilities.

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