Kimchi-red-ginseng-and-COVID-19
Shown above is Cheong Kwan Jang Red Ginseng Extract Every Time of the Korea Ginseng Corporation. Photo courtesy of Korea Ginseng Corporation

How South Korean people fight against novel coronavirus

A recent study of Dr. Jean Bousquet from the Montpellier University of France showed that South Korea’s traditional fermented side dish kimchi helped the country lower COVID-19 fatality rates.

South Korea is dubbed as one of the most successful nations in bringing the virus threats under control as the daily local infections have remained under 50 over the past few weeks. The death toll is less than 300 as of July 22.

Maybe there would be other contributors to the country’s respectable performances in fighting against the novel coronavirus _ fresh ginseng and red ginseng products, for example.

Korean ginseng is a medicinal herb, which is widely used to treat various diseases. Fresh ginseng plants are processed to red ginseng, which is abundant with saponins.

In particular, the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) approved red ginseng as one of 24 products, which can help improve human immunity.

And red ginseng products have won the hearts and minds of health-conscious consumers even before the virus pandemic outbreak started here early this year.

According to the MFDS, the country’s health functional food market was 1.73 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in 2018, and red ginseng products accounted for around 40 percent.

A flurry of companies are churning out red ginseng products and the Korea Ginseng Corporation (KGC) is a business bellwether by any measure.

The company, which uses only six-year-old ginseng roots to make red ginseng products, has spearheaded the growth of red ginseng sales both at home and abroad.

The KGC said that its efforts on increasing research and securing safety worked _ it carries out seven on-site tests, including twice on soil so as to check whether ginseng growers keep pesticide guidelines.

For instance, the KGC said early this year that one of its popular products, dubbed Cheong Kwan Jang Red Ginseng Extract Every Time, surpassed a milestone of 200 million bags in cumulative sales.

There are so many products, which marketers are saying would help improve human immunity. But people are required to check whether they were approved by the authority and the related research is sufficient,” a KGC official said.

Red ginseng products are recognized by the MFDS, and South Koreans have taken them for a long time. Hence, we think that they can really help people remain healthy.”