Traditional medicine is thriving in North Korea

Ginseng at Pyongyang Medical College
David Guttenfelder’s photo of the ancient ginseng root referred to in the quote below

An interesting Associated Press article on the prevalence of Traditional Korean Medicine (called Koryo Medicine) in North Korea:

“Doctors are more interested in Koryo medicine rather than Western medicine because they can get it more easily,” said Ri Hye Yong, who manages [Pyongyang’s Man Nyon Pharmacy], opened by the government nearly three decades ago. “It’s much cheaper.”

Although the article starts by focusing on the use of Traditional Medicine more as a necessity (Western medicines being in short supply) it gets more interesting when it focuses on the traditional medicine itself:

“I think Koryo medicine has mysterious characteristics,” said Dr. Ryu Hwan Su, deputy chief [of the Pyongyang Medical College], who proudly displayed a jar filled with a fat ginseng root believed to be more than a century old. “It heals illnesses that Western medicines can’t treat.”

The article rightly points out that traditional medicine is also in widespread use in South Korea.


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