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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid