Everything is totally fine in North Korea! It’s just that, well, about that $10 million dollar debt they owe to the Czech Republic … they’d like to repay at least part of it in ginseng.
The debt dates back to when Czechoslovakia was a Communist country and supplied North Korea with heavy machinery. In those days Communist countries often bartered goods back and forth, and Czech officials seem cautiously open to the idea, although they’d prefer zinc, a mineral that has a bit more value on the global market than ginseng, a root used in cooking and in medicinal teas said to invigorate and “make you strong.”
Czechs themselves consume only 1.4 tons of ginseng a year. It would be more useful to send them sackfuls of something they’ll actually use, like bread dumplings.
[Via Financial Times]