News / Asia

Blueberries a Big Hit in South Korea

Summer camp kids get a hand with an old Asian tradition, with a twist - pounding rice cakes infused with blueberry juice
Summer camp kids get a hand with an old Asian tradition, with a twist - pounding rice cakes infused with blueberry juice

Multimedia

The reputation of blueberries as a so-called "super-food" has created a boom in South Korea. People here are increasingly consuming the vitamin-rich fruit because of research contending blueberries may help ward off cancer, heart disease, strokes, infections, and other ailments. The berries were virtually unseen on the Korean peninsula until just a few years ago, but that has changed.

Summer camp kids get a hand with an old Asian tradition, with a twist - pounding rice cakes infused with blueberry juice.

South Koreans, who had rarely sampled blueberries a decade ago, now cannot seem to get enough of them.  Juices and jams, touted for their anti-oxidant properties, fly off the shelves.  The 1,500 tons of blueberries harvested this year on 1,000 South Korean farms are not enough to meet demand.

At the Korea Blueberry Exposition, visitor Song Yong-jun credits a mass-produced pastry for starting the berry boom.

"A confectionary company launched blueberry pies a few years back," he recalled.  "It gained quite a bit of popularity even though blueberries weren't well known at the time. I think that's when people became interested in blueberries. That prompted the launch of other products, such as blueberry-flavored chewing gum."



Blueberry farming began several years ago with seedlings from neighbor Japan.

Yu Dongsool, an advisor at the Agriculture Human Resources Development Institute, says the shrub thrives in moist, acidic conditions, such as swamps or bogs. So it needs a little help to flourish in South Korea.

"We have to import peat moss from overseas. In Korea, we have an acidic soil with a PH level similar to that found in swamps," he noted.  "The nutrient-rich peat moss and our efficient water-draining Korean soil together make an excellent combination for cultivating blueberries."

This small fruit is fetching a hefty price in the marketplace, retailing for about $50 per kilogram in department stores. And that is fueling increased interest by farmers. Industry officials predict that by next year the number of farms growing blueberries in Korea will increase 300 to 500 percent.

"I am certain that Korean people's interest in blueberries is not a fad, but rather blueberry consumption will continue to grow and blueberries will be loved by Koreans even more," he added.

South Korea is considering allowing imports of fresh blueberries from Chile, and the United States to help satisfy the nation's appetite for the fruit.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs