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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid